Another day at the beach!

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We absolutely love the beach- Ava has inherited the traditional Aussie love for the sun and sand and it absolutely makes my heart smile!

We were in Perth over the weekend for a surprise 30th Birthday so we naturally had to find some ways to entertain Miss Ava..

This beautiful beach is at Hillary’s in Perth! If you have young children it’s a great area with a playground, man made beach, inflatable water obstacles, slides that lead into the water and shade cloths!

Choc Chip Banana Bread

The way this pregnancy is going – if I see an ad for Banana Bread chances are I’m going to be making it this week.. I saw an ad for wonton soup last night- you better believe it’s on the menu for dinner next week! It’s as if my brain is taking craving cue’s from the things I’m seeing rather than what it actually wants or needs! Not that I’m complaining but it is very strange!

Today’s recipe comes from Jenna over at Butternut Bakery- It’s a great recipe for Banana Bread that’s tasty and super moist!

Choc Chip Banana Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups ripe and mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips- I used regular choc chips.

HOW TO

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F (160 C) and grease and line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugars until fully combined. You can either use a whisk or an electric mixer with the paddle attachment.
  4. Add in your mashed bananas followed by the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla.
  5. Once all of your wet ingredients are mixed together, fold in the dry ingredients. Then, fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan and spread it even. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top if you like.
  7. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let it cool completely before removing from the pan. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container.

Jenna has some great ideas over on this post about how to quickly ripen bananas. What I normally do is as I get bananas that over ripen- I peel them and add them to a ziplock in the freezer. You can use them for banana bread or smoothies as you need them.

Easy Vegan Dinner Recipe- Sweet Potato Boats!

IMG_8628If you live in the States or have ever visited you will know of the restaurant Texas Roadhouse. They have amazing bread rolls with cinnamon and butter as well as amazing sweet potato sides! One of my favourites is the sweet potato, cut open and slathered with cinnamon butter.

Greg has been doing the Daniel Fast this week so I’ve been looking for recipes that are vegan friendly- dairy free, meat free etc

A really simple recipe that we love and is super filling are sweet potato boats!

Here’s the recipe!

Sweet Potato Boats

Ingredients

  • Sweet Potatoes (one for each person)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • a few Tbsp of Almond Butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

How to

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes.
  3. Cover each sweet potato with Vegetable Oil in a thin layer and poke with a fork numerous times all over
  4. Wrap each sweet potato individually in aluminium foil,  and place on a baking tray in the oven. Depending on the size of the potatoes they will take approx 45min-1 1/2 hour to soften. To check if the potato is done insert a knife or fork through it- if it glides smoothly you are ready to rock and roll.
  5. Take the potatoes out of the oven and allow to cool for approx 5 min.
  6. Open the potato parcels up and slice open the sweet potatoes to have two halves. Using a fork or knife disrupt the smooth flesh to make ridges and divots.
  7. Place Almond Butter on each side of the potato flesh, sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Enjoy!

Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

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If you’re looking for a more shortbread type of cookie this recipe needs to be your go to! It almost broke the internet last year when it was first posted! You can find the original recipe here at bon appetit.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2¼ sticks) cold salted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces (254g)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped (but not too fine, you want chunks, not thin shards of chocolate) 170g
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Demerara sugar (for rolling)
  • Flaky sea salt

HOW TO

  • Using an electric mixer and a medium bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until super light and fluffy, 3–5 minutes.

  • Using a spatula, scrape down sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour, followed by chocolate chunks, and beat just to blend.

  • Divide dough in half, then place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over to cover dough and protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands (just like you’re playing with clay), form dough into a log shape; rolling it on the counter will help you smooth it out, but don’t worry about getting it totally perfect. Each half should form logs that are 2–2¼” in diameter. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush outside of logs with egg wash. Roll logs in demerara sugar.

  • Slice each log into ½”-thick rounds. Arrange on prepared baking sheet about 1″ apart (they won’t spread much). Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake cookies until edges are just beginning to brown, 12–15 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating them all.

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Gifts for Her

With Valentines Day coming up (and our 9 year anniversary!!) I wanted to do a roundup of gifts for that special lady in your life that doesn’t follow your typical clothing, beauty products, devices, perfume etc

I’ve put together a small list of recommendations if you are Sydney based- I hope they inspire you to gift something not so typical for your next special event!

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1. Bloombox Flower Subsciption (3 months) $47/month | 2. Learn to Weave Class with Sky Carter ($100) | 3. Day Spa voucher (a great one that I’ve used multiple times is Nectar Day Spa in Macarthur Square) | 4. Black Velvet 1/2 dozen Cupcake Delivery ($27)  | 5. I can recommend Hayley Rafton who took our family photos last year | 6. Mimco Dual Tassel Keyring ($60) | 7. Bourke Street Bakery Masterclasses ($135) |

A letter to my first baby..

14987979562151837706You my darling girl are one of the greatest things your father and I have ever been a part of creating. I couldn’t help but let a few tears fall when I realised that you were not going to be my only baby come April. You have only known the undivided and devoted love of your dada and mama but come April there will be another set of tiny little feet in our home. I’m not worried about loving you less or loving your new sister as much, I believe everyone when they say that my heart will grow, but I am mourning the loss of not being a family of three anymore.

Over the past few weeks you have been spontaneously telling me that you love me- my heart feels like it’s going to explode every time – I image it’s how the Lord feels when His children tell Him they love Him, spontaneously.

You have been talking about the baby in mummy’s tummy almost every day- we talk about her eyes and ears and how she’s going to watch Banana in Pajama’s with you. We talk about how she is going to be your best friend and how you’re going to help mumma give her a bottle and wash her hair. I’m sure you will never remember doing this but often you check my belly with my iphone charge cord – one end around your neck the other against my belly- I’m assuming you’re copying the sonographer- you are one smart little girl my baby!

Today you asked to pray for the Baby. I bowed my head, you closed your eyes and you prayed “Dear Jesus, I pray for Baby Raegan, in Jesus Name, Amen.” You went on to pray for the stuffed animal that you were holding as well but I’m sure it’s because you were feeling the presence of God. I don’t know what your little heart was trying to convey to Jesus about your new sister but I know He heard you.

You are going to be the most amazing sister and friend… I know this because you are an amazing gift from God.

We love you forever and always.

Mum

The art of organising

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If you’re on Netflix or at least connected to some kind of media outlet you would have heard of the Konmari method, Marie Kondo or something about op-shops getting too many donations in the last month! There is a new Netflix series that recently dropped into our Netflix called “Tidying Up.” Marie Kondo takes various couples through tidying up their homes- some are hoarders, some families with young children and others just needing the room in the homes to breath! It’s a great series that has spurred millions on to find things that “spark joy” rather than having their closest and cupboards full!

After one episode I was hooked and began the task of tidying up our home!

The first stop was the bags of baby clothes we had in the garage- they were in vacuum bags but they had punctured which meant the bags were really really big. I bought $5 plastic tubs from my local hardware store, Bunnings, and began putting the clothes into sizes. This fete alone took my mum and I a couple of hours but once it was all done we stacked them neatly in the garage with clearly visible labels as to what sizes they were.

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The next thing to tackle was the bathroom- my Nan has a habit of buying me deodorant so come to find out I have 7 or 8 brand new deodorants (ha).. I bought a few $4 plastic tubs from Kmart and organized everything:

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The next task was the drawers and cupboards- especially Ava’s as Baby No. 2 would be sharing the chest of drawers and cupboard. We’re going to try to keep the third bedroom as a playroom. Marie Kondo has a specific way of folding clothes- you can watch it here. I loosely followed this method as you can see below. It really helped to get everything to fit into drawers and seemed to create room out of nowhere!

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Greg’s knickknacks, tie clips and running gear separated by use into clear plastic containers I already had. Out of reach so Ava can’t collect the tie clips but visible enough that Greg has daily access to it!

Last, but not least, came the kitchen drawers. They were already organised (I have a really small kitchen) but there were a few cupboards and drawers that were a bit of a dumping ground, especially the plastic container drawer!

I used containers I already had for the plastic container drawer as I was really trying to keep costs to a minimum.. Here are the results!

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I put round containers in round containers, squares in squares etc.img_8397

Tea towels could definitely be folded better, I know, but at least the beginnings of organisation are there!img_8398

My second drawer is only for the utensils I use every day. Everything else goes into the third drawers or storage in a container.

Anytime I get the camera out Miss Ava wants to have her picture taken and take some pictures of other people..so I bring to you two cute photos amidst all the organising!

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Valentines Day

With Valentines Day around the corner I’ve listed some of my favourite small additions to your day or meal that would make another day a little less ordinary! With Valentines being so close to our anniversary we tend to not celebrate it- but it doesn’t mean that little homemade or “cheap” gestures can’t go a long way!

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One. Tissue Paper Garland by Meri Meri (found here if in AUS) | Two. Easy Succulent Gift Idea by Brittni at Paper & Stitch | Three. Free Printable Cupcake Topper by Kim at Tomkat Studio (Similar printable found here) | Four. 8 Party Crowns by Meri Meri (found here is in AUS) | Five. Heart Paper Plates by Meri Meri (found here is in AUS) | Six. Rose Gold Straws from House of Party

Dollhouse DIY

So dollhouses- while I am seriously impressed with the Barbie dollhouse out there today (I’m talking about built in lifts and water sprinklers) they are a horrible bright pink and plastic. I don’t know why but plastic dollhouses just aren’t my thing- they look cheap and cheery- I much prefer a wood dollhouse!

Dollhouses weren’t really on my radar for Ava considering her age and the fact that she had never really showed an interest in them- that was until we were in the States last year. My In-laws had a huge Barbie dollhouse with a farm, car etc you name it they had it! Ava was in love!

If you remember a few years ago- I bought a Big W Kids Garment Rack. It’s still available for purchase for $39.

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Well with Ava getting a little bigger and re-arranging her room to try and give her more space it just wasn’t feasible to have the garment rack in her room. I didn’t want to get rid of it because apparently it’s a coveted Big W item (ha) and it’s super cute (the reason I bought it in the first place). I moved it to the playroom initially but again it was taking up too much room.  I thought of using it as a superhero/princess changing station with costumes etc but again the room and I couldn’t handle mismatched colourful outfits being out on display (that my friends is the real reason I’m sure.. my OCD wouldn’t allow it)

After a few days of musing over what to do the thought of changing it into a dollhouse came to mind! We wanted to get Ava a dollhouse anyways and with some woodwork from my dad I could probably get the bare bones of a dollhouse to paint and decorate!

I dropped the dollhouse into dad one day and within a few weeks I had the bare bones of a dollhouse! Big W eat your heart out!

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After some paint, dollhouse furniture from Amazon/Kmart and inspiration from Pinterest we’ve partially finished creating a beautiful doll house! I’ll link everything below! I still have a little ways to go regarding decorating walls etc but we’re well on our way!

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Ava loves playing with it and we’ve named her two dolls Ava and Sophia and the baby’s name is “baby.” The girls have baths and eat dinner, they cook and play in the babies room- it’s quite adorable to watch!

Doll House Furniture

Bathroom Furniture (Kmart)  |  Bedroom Furniture (Kmart)  |  Lounge Furniture (Kmart)  |  Kitchen Furniture (Kmart)  |  Main Dolls (Kmart)  |  Baby Doll (Kmart)  |  Dining Room Table & Chairs (Amazon)  |  Lounge Room Plant (Amazon)  |  Kid’s Room Furniture  (Mighty Ape/Amazon)  |  Pets (Mighty Ape/Amazon)  |  Small plant in Kitchen (Amazon)  |  Turkish Rug in Dining Room (Amazon)  |  Window Box Flowers (Amazon)

Grass off cut – was leftover from when we re-did our backyard with artificila turf.

Paint- these are from Spotlight (our local craft store).

Floors- the “floor boarded” floors are cut up paddle pop sticks, glued down with a hot glue gun.

Wallpaper- Scrap booking paper from our local craft store hot glue gunned to the walls.

I’m still working on ideas for the walls- i.e. framed pictures, macrame etc send me your ideas if you have any!

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cookies

When it comes to desserts I am your baker- sign me up, put my name on it, call your friends. While I’m not a huge fan of actually eating dessert I love baking! Cookies are definitely my strength- I’ve perfected them over the past 10 years or so. Here’s the link for my Famous Choc-Chip Cookies if you’re looking for a tried and true recipe that is amazing!

I tried these cookies out the other night- they were good- not great, but good!

If you’re looking for something a little different I recommend giving these a try! The recipe is below- it comes from Sam Adler at Frostingandfettuccine.com.

46Chocolate Chunk Coffee Cookies

  • Prep Time: 75 mins
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 90 mins
  • Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons ground coffee or sub instant coffee (I cut open a nespresso pod for this)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons black coffee, can be instant!
  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks or chips

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugars and mix on low-medium until smooth. Do not overmix or the cookies will spread more than they should.
  3. Add in the whole egg and then the yolk, and mix.
  4. Add in ground coffee, vanilla, and brewed coffee, mix on low to combine.
  5. Turn the mixer off and add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and then turn the mixer on low moving up to medium speed as the dry ingredients incorporate into the wet.
  6. When an evenly mixed dough forms, stop the mixer and stir in the chocolate chunks in by hand so as not to break them up.
  7. Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, scoop out evenly sized balls and place them on the baking sheet. You want them to be taller rather than wider. They can also be close to each other here because they are just going in the refrigerator to chill before baking.
  8. Chill the dough for an hour or up to overnight.
  9. Preheat your oven to 350° F/180° C
  10. Separate the dough balls on two different baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Make sure they are 1-2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  11. Bake for 15 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges are golden brown.