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.

A big girls room.

img_8342Considering Ava was my first baby I have had no idea what ages they are supposed to transition into big girl beds or drop bottles or learn to talk – I have googled almost everything!

We had an inkling that perhaps Ava was getting a little too big for cot converted to small bed before we left for the U.S. last year- we would find her half hanging out of the bed some mornings. She was also getting into the habit of coming into our bed a lot earlier than her normal 5/6am. We didn’t think to change her over to a single bed beforehand though as we weren’t sure if she was big enough- was it normal for a 2 year old to need a single bed already? She is so little…

When we got back after our trip we put her to bed as per usual but was woken up at about 11pm to her crying inconsolably- she had fallen out of the bed! The same thing happened the next night- Greg and I looked at each other and new it was time to transition her to a big girl bed!

I had been scouring Facebook Marketplace while we were overseas waiting for a white metal frame bed to appear at a bit cheaper than Ikea’s price of $200- and so on Monday morning a bed came up and I pounced! Come to find out the bed was for sale from a little girl (this was her old bed) because she wanted to buy an ipad! I felt so bad that I was buying her old bed for such a discounted price.. haha.. When she found out that the bed was going to be Ava’s first bed she included some of her old favourite books for Ava- it was the sweetest thing!

We set her up in her big girl bed a few months ago and she has been loving it!

Our little girl is not so little anymore!

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Sources for mostly everything here!

Faux Sheepskin – Ikea | White Frame – Kmart  |  Colourful pom pom bunting- Adairs (similar linked here)  |  Flowers- House 2 Home (they don’t have their items listed online. You can visit their website here) |  Wall Dots – 100percentheart  |  I love you forever print – Caravan Shoppe  |  Bed – Ikea (similar linked here)  |  Quilt Cover Set – Pillow Talk  |  Swan head – Target  |  Fairy doll – Adairs  |  Pink throw pillows– Ikea  |  Jewellery Box – Pottery Barn

I’ll have a DIY for the dollhouse coming next week!

Blessed..

img_8319If you follow along on Instagram you would have seen that I surprised my best friend of 25+ years at a hospital on the other side of the country on Friday. She had given birth 5 days earlier and wasn’t expecting me to fly in for a visit but thankfully we had a number of points that I could use- it was a beautiful (and very emotional) reunion. Her- just given birth and coming off the hormone high that comes with pregnancy and me- 25 weeks pregnant with a baby- we were blubbering messes for a few days.

The weekend was filled with time on the couch watching a newborn baby sleep and feed, kissing her every few minutes, changing itty bitty nappies that look like doll nappies and eating from a freezer full of leftovers from her mum! Liz has been an absolutely champion since giving birth- seriously- I am in awe of how well she has recovered and how well she is nursing Baby Adelaide!

Seeing this little baby brought back so many memories of when I came home with Ava- I was definitely a lot more emotional and uncertain that Liz appeared to be- I remember lots of tears and feelings of adequacy. With your first child you never really know if you’re doing things right- google became one of my most trusted advisories! Liz’s baby, Adelaide, is absolutely perfect. She has 10 fingers and 10 toes- she’s eating like a champion and filling up those nappies just as fast! She has a head full of jet black hair and really long fingers like her mumma! She is perfection..

I came home really early on Monday morning exhausted from the red eye flight but so so happy to see Greg and Ava at the airport! Ava came running to me yelling “mumma, mumma”- I was ready to burst into tears- blame it on the hormones and lack of sleep!

This week has been a pretty standard week for us- lots of cooking at home and family time- most of our church events are yet to start up- I have been reminded so often this week at how grateful I am for God’s many blessings- as lame as it perhaps sounds I seriously can’t count them…

I watched Greg and Ava play in the backyard yesterday- spraying each other with the hose to cool off in the weather- I made them dinner with food from a full fridge that they both loved! I followed a recipe for coffee choc chips cookies, I washed my dishes in a sink with running water, I picked a dress this morning from a closet full of clothes, I woke up to the sound of my daughter playing and talking…I drove to a job that allows me to balance motherhood and being a career woman.. I could go on and on..

Sometimes we don’t realise how blessed we truly are.

We have a large print in our lounge room which says “Count your many blessings”*- in 2019 I’m determined to focus more on what God has blessed me with and nurture and appreciate those then become blinded by what I don’t have.

* The print is from Caravan Shoppe- I’ve posted here before or you can go directly to Caravan Shoppe and purchase here– It’s part of their Woodland Thanksgiving Package.

 

Potty Training- The final countdown

img_8002If you remember back in November, 2017 Ava began telling us when she needed to go number 2’s instead of using her nappy- she was 1 and 3 months old! She got the hang of going number 2’s in the potty within a week with only a few accidents here and there over the course of the next year or so but number 1’s were not catching on at all. Every time we’d have a great few days in undies she would have a few major accidents and we would revert back to nappies- after a month or so we gave up altogether and went back to pull-ups full time with the hope of trying again after she turned 2. We tried stickers, chocolate, rewards- the whole kit and kaboodle!

While overseas last November (2018) we stayed with my husband’s father and step-mum, well they have 4 dogs who use the “potty” every few hours- they ring a bell hanging from a door and go outside. Ava quickly caught on to this and started telling us 99% of the time when she needed to use the bathroom for 1’s and 2’s! I couldn’t believe it.. Would you believe me if I told you that she only went through  roughly 25 pull ups in a 3 week period? I have those dogs to thank!

When we got back she came to me the next morning and said “no nappy, undies mumma”.. In December we had a few accidents but we haven’t had any since well before Christmas. We’ve been on adventures to the grocery store, the library, a restaurant, friends’ houses- not one accident! Another “baby” chapter has closed and it’s amazing but so so sad!!

My tip for nap times is to make sure your child goes to the toilet directly before nap time and directly after nap time. This has helped us to not have any accidents while she’s napping.

My top tips when potty training/thinking of starting potty training:

  1. Consider- is your child ready? We tried a few times and she just didn’t catch on. Instead of having accident after accident we decided to stop the process and start again in a few weeks.
  2. When they are getting the hang of using the toilet buy them some really cool undies- we went with Emma Wiggles ones, Moana ones and Minnie Mouse ones. It was such a novelty for her to wear them!
  3. When you start the process ask your child if they need to use the potty every 20-30 minutes. Sometimes they need a little coaxing or encouragement to recognise the urge to use the bathroom. After a few weeks though trust that their instinct has kicked in and lay off the hounding (ha- I think Ava was sick of people asking her constantly “do you need to go wee-wee!”
  4. Try not to stress too much- everything is washable!! I washed a couch cover, a car seat, undies, dresses- it’s all a huge learning curve for kids- approach every accident with lots of grace.
  5. Carry around an emergency bag- In the bag I keep the following 4 items: 1. A change of undies 2. A spare dress 3. A ziplock if the original clothing was dirtied and 4. a nappy (for emergencies).

At this stage we’re still using a nappy for nighttime’s as she still has a bottle. We’ve weaned her down to two bottles a day- we’ll be working on dropping the night time bottle in February/March.

I don’t have much of a recommendation by way or potty training charts or reward charts but hopefully there’s something in our experience that can help you along your journey!