Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in review


I nearly wrote 2011 in my blog post title. Hard to believe 2012 is actually over. Where did it go? To tell you the truth, it wasn't the best year of my life. I've had 'bad' years before. Broken dreams, losing your father to cancer (20 years this year), infidelity, moving on from mistrust in relationships but nothing comes close to losing your mother.

Being a mother myself makes it even harder to accept. I was always my mother's daughter and she was 'it'. She was the backstop. If there was ever a problem, advice sought, a cafe/dining partner, vacationing buddy, that was my Mum. Even writing that brings tears to my eyes. I came to the conclusion that I will always shed tears for my Mum. Christmas, birthdays, Mother's Day will always come and go and I will remember them. I will visit her grave and have a cuppa with her somewhere and tell my children all about her life. I've taken a page out of her life now and am 'getting on with it".

Besides that, my marriage broke down in January and that was hard to accept. It was a mutual decision at first but he had moved on very quickly. Learning to be a single parent, trying to provide both a maternal and paternal role to my children, managing on a single Government provided income and now being told that if I don't find at least 15 hours per week of work or study I will lose that, has given me something else to think about for the future (of which I'm still undecided).

But as far as blogging goes, what started out as a place to store a few basic recipes and stories of my children has turned into a little community of like-minded people who, for some reason, like my recipes and what I write. When things got a bit much this year I thought about taking around 6 months off from blogging but I soon returned as I missed the camaraderie and support I realise existed here on the blog.

Here are some of the highlights of 2012.

January saw the start of Thriving on Thursdays. A linky party where bloggers from all around the world have the opportunity to link up their blog posts from the week relating to a frugal way of life. Recipes, crafts, financial advice, sewing projects, you name it. I've made some wonderful friends through this little party (and found some wonderful recipes and inspiration) and as long as people want to keep linking up, Thriving on Thursdays will continue.
I also created a series of blog posts under the title THRiVING covering everyday topics and how to save a couple of dollars (and maybe a bit of time). Topics covered were Back to School, Shopping, Cooking etc. I'll add to those as I go.
February is birthday month for me, which was one of the last times I was out and about with Mum. We celebrated High Tea at the Keri Craig Emporium in the Brisbane CBD and normally we would've looked around all the beautiful shops but Mum didn't have the energy. I knew something was up then. It was just under a month later she passed.
In April I introduced a new look to the blog. The lovely Bobbi Fox from Pixel Fox Designs did a great job on redesigning the blog. It was one less thing I had to worry about updating every time I got tired of the colour scheme or photos in the header. I'll see how much longer I can stick with this one but at the moment I'm happy with it.
Photo: Greek zucchini fritters
In May I entered a certain cooking competition (if you hadn't already heard about it). Gourmet Garden herbs were having a Blog Off/Cook Off and the top 18 picked throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria (6 in each State) were to cook off against each other at their capital city's Good Food & Wine Show. Mine was in November and I was very lucky to win.
Every Saturday I was searching Pinterest for the top ways to use a particular ingredient or general item from around the house. They can all be found in my Tips tab above. Who knew nearly 200,000 people were interested in reading about 16 ways to use quinoa or over 160,000 people read 23 things to make from t-shirts?
There was a bit of promotional work for Howards Storage World, Gourmet Garden and John West products, IN2Cricket and PANDA (Post and Ante Natal Depression Association). I finally got to meet some of my favourite bloggers in person.
The birthdays in November are always a busy time for me. My daughter's just happened to coincide with the cooking competition and my son's birthday always coincides with end of school break up.
December was a bit of a blur. I can remember having a couple day's relaxation at Rainbow Beach but other than that there were appointments for personal 'stuff' which made the lead up to Christmas very busy. The actual Christmas preparations were very laid back.
Being a single parent of two children, my recipes changed over the 12 months. There's no point in making whole cakes or large family meals anymore so the style of my recipes changed slightly but hopefully still enjoyed by all.
So, as I enter my third year of blogging, I'd like to thank the nearly 900,000 people (including spammers) who have visited Domesblissity. To the nearly 5,000 who come every day, I hope you find what you're looking for and, since July this year (according to Google Analytics), the 30,000 unique visitors who come here every month, stay as long as you like. You're all always very welcome.
Thanks for the memories and the lessons learned 2012. I'm certainly looking forward to a bigger and better 2013!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Favourite recipes of 2012

Looking for ways to use up seasonal produce, basic proteins (ie chicken, fish, etc) in a way that is tasty and frugal is the way I like to cook. A couple times throughout the year I went on a bit of a health kick so reduced the baking and went to low fat cooking. Other times I needed just to get something on the table so went for family favourites and proven recipes that haven't let me down. Here are a few favourites from 2012.


For all these recipes and more, check out my Recipes tab above.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

7 ways to entertain with prawns

I may or may not be seeing the new year in. Since the kid's arrival it's just been another day and most often than not I've been in bed well before midnight. This year, however, I might be celebrating with  my sister. Nothing better than a nice, cold glass of bubbly and some quickly prepared canapes or appetisers. No one wants a really big meal. These ideas are quick and simple and can be prepared well ahead of time.

Prawns on Rice Crackers with Mango Salsa
Use any kind of cracker, melba toast, corn chip or tortilla. Top with fresh prawn and make a quick Mango Salsa with diced mango, Gourmet Garden coriander and Gourmet Garden mild chilli (fresh coriander or sweet chilli sauce will also work).
Individual Asian Prawn Cocktail
Spread mini Cos lettuce leaves on a platter. Top with a prawn and a spoonful of whole egg mayonnaise mixed with Gourmet Garden Thai seasoning and lime juice.

 And don't worry about queuing for hours at the local seafood store. Pop in to your local supermarket for a tray of fresh John West prawns from the chiller cabinet. Already comes with a spicy dipping sauce you could use as is or spice up with some Gourmet Garden herb flavours.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012 "wrap up"

Well, that's Christmas for another year and like I say, every year, there's more fun in the lead up to Christmas than the actual day. That 'fun' starts earlier and earlier each year and by the time the actual day has come and gone one might be left feeling a little down. I always find the lead up quite hectic because it always coincides with the kid's birthdays and end of school breakup and I haven't quite worked out how to make that stress free yet. I thought I had done a good job of that this year but it seemed still quite stressful.

There was the kid's school Christmas concert (my son's first one). We were all extremely proud of him as he had major meltdowns how he was in no way going to perform in the Christmas concert.

There were gifts for class mates and teachers. First time since the kids were at Kindergarten there was no baking. I just didn't want to over stress myself and gave the teachers flavoured coffee sachets and chocolates. My daughter's friends got the Grinch pills (green apple Tic Tacs, idea from here) and my son's a chocolate Santa stuck in a card.

The day after school finished, myself, the 2 dogs and the 2 kids were bundled up in the car and we headed 3 hours north to Rainbow Beach. It was a little stressful getting there, just making sure the kids were kept occupied and not fighting and the dogs didn't need to go the 'bathroom' but we got there in the end and relaxed while we were there.

Those couple weeks before Christmas were busy with some other 'stuff', a few appointments here and there and a bit of this.

Packet mix Gingerbread Men (part of a Christmas hamper gift from a lovely neighbour).

Christmas Rocky Road (mint flavoured chocolate, raspberry lollies, mint leaves, red and green M&M's, marshmallows and peanuts.

DIY Authentic Santa Sacks (which were well received by the kids and daughter says "we can use them again next year!" Good girl!)

Frozen Mango & Macadamia Trifle (layers of fresh mango infused vanilla ice cream, sponge and topped with roasted macadamias)

Roasted Pumpkin Salad (simple and easy and very tasty - recipe here)

Salted Peanut Chocolate Toffee Clusters (Melt 1/2 cup sugar, stir in 1 1/2 cups peanuts, stir quickly, allow to set, sprinkle with salt, separate, stir through 200gm melted chocolate and spoon into small cupcake papers. Once set, remove if desired.)

We avoided the shops at all costs, except to get a roast chicken on Christmas Eve. The kids loved all their presents. They enjoyed Christmas morning with their Dad here at home. We then went onto my sister's after she finished her shift at hospital and stayed the night. Boxing Day was quiet while we minded her pet dogs until she got home and then we returned home to our mess. I'm taking it easy getting everything tidy again. We've had enough of rushing around since November and are just enjoying not having to be anywhere by any particular time.

My uncle informed me that it's Christmas at his house next year so maybe back to the good old days I remember having huge Christmas dinners with a large house/yard full of people and children, something my kids haven't really experienced. I'm sure they still enjoy Christmas Day nonetheless. Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish each and everyone who visits Domesblissity a very Merry Christmas and to thank you all for visiting me here in this small part of the blogosphere all year.

We'll be having a nice quiet Christmas with my sister after she's finished her shift at the hospital. The chidren's father is here this morning to be with the kids while they open their presents and I like it like that. It's all for them. This will be our first Christmas without Mum but I'm sure she'll be watching, making sure we've got enough food for everyone and in case anyone pops in.

I had a busy lead up to Christmas but not with Christmas related stuff. It was all personal stuff and I got through it. I started to feel a bit lacking of Christmas spirit because I didn't bake one single thing or make one single handmade gift (maybe one or two here or there). I don't have anyone else to give gifts for except my children and my sister so I got out of that expense 'scott free'.

Nonetheless, we saw our fair share of Christmas lights, the kids ate their fair share of candy canes, they got to see Santa after all and we remembered the 'reason for the season'.

I hope you all have a wonderful time relaxing with your friends and family and I'll be back in a day or so with a Christmas wrap up.

With much love,


Sunday, December 23, 2012

A THRiFTY Christmas - Week 4

The final THRiFTY Christmas roundup has arrived with only ONE. MORE. DAY until Christmas. Have you got it all done? Presents bought or made and wrapped? Food organised? Kid's craft ideas organised? Well, look no further because it's all here folks. Just enough to see you over the edge. In case you need any more inspiration, you can check out the previous week's roundups here.
Chai Cranberry Almond Biscotti Recipe
 cookie recipes 009


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