Maltese Macaroni

One day I’ll go into the history of my own family, but until then, this is a little glimpse into my dad’s side of the family.

My dad, though born here in Sydney, is 100% Maltese. I grew up going to my Nanoo and Nana’s house every Thursday night for dinner and games. My dad’s entire family can build you a house, brick lay your driveway, fix your car or pretty much fix anything else that may be broken- they are incredible, and they are 100% Maltese. Our surname is Grech (in Malta this is their version of the last name Smith!)

My Nanoo passed away a few years ago, but my Nana is still with us- thankfully. I remember over the years my Nana slaving away in the kitchen- she would make a rotation of meals- Marinated Pork Neck, Macaroni, Ravioli, Handmade Canoli’s and every so often Rabbit Stew.

You never really think your grandparents won’t be with you forever, especially as a child.. and then one day they are gone. They leave behind memories, and material things but you’ll never get to have that conversation with them again.. or hear them laugh.. or hear their accents (years of living in Australia hasn’t change my Nana’s accent one bit). Often Greg will call my dads name with the same inflections that my Nana says his name, rolling the f’s like she came from Malta yesterday! Her voice is a dear memory I have, saved away for those moments I know will come when she is no longer with us.

Before Nana was bound to a wheelchair, and lost the main function in her hands, I sat with her at her vinyl covered dinner table and took the recipes down for her Macaroni and Marinated Pork Neck. I remember her telling me the recipe out of order- as she remembered it. It was brought with her from Malta, and I don’t think she had ever made a point to write it down.


I hope this recipe continues to live on with Ava, and her children.

stockmen.pngNana’s Macaroni

Serves: 4-6


1/2 Brown Onion

2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

340g Tomato Puree (Passata)

2-3 Tbsp Tomato Paste

250g of each Pork and Veal Mince (Picture below of the one I use)

2-3 Tbsp Vegeta

1/2 tsp raw sugar

1/2 cup cup grated Parmesan (I use mozzarella sometimes)

2 eggs

250ml thickened cream

600g Rigatoni Pasta

How to

Pre-heat your oven to 180 Celcius

1. Cook the pasta as per the instructions, drain and set aside.


2. Place the Olive Oil in a large frypan/pot and heat

3. Fry the onions and garlic

636350594628963337_Afterlight_Edit4. Once they are softened add the mince, passata and tomato paste. Leave it to cook until the oil rises (approx 10-12 min)


5. Add the sugar and vegeta and stir to combine

6. Beat the eggs and cream in a jug

Now it’s assembly time!

7. Get your baking dish (you can use any size, you just may need to use multiple dishes), lightly grease the dish and line with baking paper. I line the dish with baking paper so the cheese and passata doesn’t harden and become impossible to clean afterwards!

You are going to layer the macaroni as follows:

1st layer- tomato meat layer

2nd layer- pasta

3rd layer – cream/egg mix

4th layer- cheese

Repeat until all the meat is finished (ensuring that the top layer is cheese)


8. Place in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the top of the macaroni is golden.


*This is the pork/beef mince I use!


Free events around Sydney!

CLIMB HIGHThere are a few websites floating around that have lists of free events for kids around Sydney. When I started Growing a Bebé, I wanted to make it a point to post about good free events for other mums however trying to cover all the different websites was a bit hard. Below are my top picks for September for ages beginning roughly at 3. On a side note- I would recommend clicking on the clicks to make sure you don’t need to register in advance for the event!

September 2016

        01 02 03
Storytime– Ultimo
Rock ‘n’ Rhyme– Glebe
04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Lego Free Play– Waterloo
Kids Makerspace– Surry Hills
Storytime– Ultimo
Rock ‘n’ Rhyme– Glebe
Smooth Festival of Chocolate– The Rocks
11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Smooth Festival of Chocolate– The Rocks
Festival of the winds (Kite festival)– Waverley


Mum and Bub- Exercise your mood week begins- Redfern
Lego Free Play– Waterloo
Storytime– Ultimo
Rock ‘n’ Rhyme– Glebe 
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Lego Free Play– Waterloo
Storytime– Ultimo
Rock ‘n’ Rhyme– Glebe
The essential Baby and Toddler Show– Moore Park
The essential Baby and Toddler Show– Moore Park
Family Fun Day and Outdoor Movie– Double Bay 
25 26 27 28 29 30  
 The essential Baby and Toddler Show– Moore Park
Convoy for Kids- Truckies care for kids– Sydney Olympic Park
Circus Solarus Dinosaur Dig begins- Sydney Olympic Park
Lego Free Play– Waterloo
Create a giant Peach mobile– Stanmore
Create a giant Peach mobile– Dulwich Hill

Special Mentions

Father’s Day!

Ava was born just in time for Greg to experience his first Father’s Day! He has seamlessly transitioned into fatherhood (of an 11 day old..haha) and has been so supportive- he truly has astounded me. What kind of guy will wake up every 4 hours during the night just to sit and chat so you don’t have to be awake feeding by yourself!

I’ve been stockpiling a few printable’s for Father’s Day with the hope of using them next year- these past 2 weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind with Ava! Below is a roundup of cheap and easy gifts/printable’s and outfits that I am loving!

Beach Resort Travel Photo Collage

One- Rad like dad bib (Cotton on) // Two- Best Dad Ever t-shirt (Cotton on) // Three- Daddy is the best onesie (Target) // Four- Dad Keyring (Pearlie Girl) // Five- Dear Dad Free Printable (Cool Mom Picks) // Six- Dad’s mug (afewhometruths)

Swaddles and Blankets

Swaddles are some of my favourite items to look at in stores and find online! There are so many beautiful designs and fabric choices. I would love to create a range of swaddles to sell locally here in Sydney- maybe one day that dream will become a reality! Below are some of my current favourites!

Beach Resort Travel Photo Collage

Beach Resort Travel Photo Collage

One- Watercolour Rose swaddle (Little Unicorn) // Two- I love you most blanket (Noah & Bowie) // Three- Jack Plaid swaddle (Little Unicorn) Four- Bison swaddle (Little Unicorn) // Five- Rose swaddle (Milkmaid Goods) // Six- Lightweight Marl Bears wrap (Noah & Bowie) // Seven- Our greatest adventure swaddle (How Joyful) // Eight- Wildflowers swaddle (Oh so Vera) // Nine- DIY Wrapped in love swaddle (Delia Creates) // Ten- Royal Blue Heart blanket (Yarning made) // Eleven- Teal tartan pom pom blanket (Kip and Co) // Twelve- Bible verse swaddle (Modern Burlap)

Beautiful Head Pieces

Personally, I don’t look very good in headbands or beanie’s (I think it’s the large Assyrian/Maltese forehead)- but most babies look absolutely adorable- I have probably pinned hundreds of photos of different pieces.

I have started buying a few different head bands and crocheting one or two here and there for baby Ava- I’ll share the crocheted ones in a few days.

Below are a few of my favourite’s I have found (or own!):

Baking and Cooking Photo Collage

one- baby turban // two- floral crown // three- fairy bow headband // four- ballet headband // five- queenie crown

We actually used a baby headband for our announcement that it was a baby girl!


Menu Planning

Hopefully without sounding too insane, I love organising and planning! Lists are one of my favourite things to make! I’ll write a list at the beginning of the week of everything I need to do and then make lists daily of specific things for that day, all the while crossing of things from the weekly list. When it comes to organising my husband and I with breakfast, lunches and dinner it’s no different- I have been menu planning for years so I’m sure this will be a time-saver in the coming months when a newborn is introduced to the family.

*on a side note- yes I do make my husband’s lunch- he doesn’t work anywhere near a cafe or a shopping centre- and as you will see, menu planning ensures he has something (somewhat) healthy to eat instead of grabbing fast food.

My menu planning regime is very simple.

My first recommendation is to list everything you have in your pantry, freezer and fridge. You don’t have to do this every week, but when you initially take the jump to start menu planning you’ll want to know what you have- for example you may have been buying spaghetti noodles every time you go shopping and you now have 4 packets, or you may have a can of chickpeas from a year ago sitting in your pantry.

Before you even start to plan for the coming week or month try to use up the things you forgot you had! Our goal is to reduce any hoarding and over- buying, essentially saving money!

There are websites which can help you find recipes for those ingredients you have stockpiled such as Supercook and Foodwise.

Next, you’re going to want to create a template or system for planning that works for you. Because there are only two of us (and generally we can eat the same things) I menu plan like the below:


B- Toast

L- Chicken and Salad

D- Spaghetti with meatballs

If we have something to attend at night I will make a note of it so I know to cook our dinner for the following night the night before:


B- Toast

L- Chicken and Salad

D- (Music Practice) Spaghetti with meatballs


Don’t be afraid of leftovers and having them the next day for lunch. No one wants to eat the same meal 3 nights in a row, but by accounting for the same meal one more time that week (if you were to make spaghetti on Tuesday night, it would last till Thursday lunch)- it will help with wastage and planning.

Next, I go through my menu meal by meal and write down the ingredients I will need (example in the above picture). I categorise these by Diary, Fresh, Meat etc because that’s generally how the grocery store is set up that we go to. You can categorise them whichever way works easiest for you.

Of course I add things after this to the list that I know we need- cereal, bread, museli bars but essentially I have my main meals accounted for. Do I forget things- yep! Do I purchase something I don’t need because it’s on sale or my unborn baby is telling me I need it- yep! But overall, menu planning can be exciting and budget saving!

I have created a free template for how I menu plan here. I’ve also added a printable template for a grocery list here. There are a few templates that I came across which are slightly different which may work for you (photos are hyperlinked):



My last tip (that we definitely implement) is consolidating cooking. For example, this week we had BBQ lamb on Tuesday night- I also had Greg BBQ the chicken for Wednesday and Thursday’s meal. This saved on cooking time for me, as well as having the meals ready a lot faster when needed as opposed to waiting for the meat to bake that night.

Hopefully you have read through some helpful tips that you can implement to make life easier!

Baby Boy You’ve been on my mind..

It’s no secret that I (along with most of my female family) were hoping for a baby boy! Alas we were blessed with another little girl making her appearance in August!

I couldn’t help but pick out a cute outfit for this imaginary baby boy! (I somewhat ignored some of the prices however a few items are on sale at the moment!)


one – otis baby blunny

two – baby boy denim knit shirt

three – baby boys fleetwood vest

four – baby boys linen harem pant

five – rock star cap

six – kooky socks


Ballerina Baby

I am loving all the baby girl items I am seeing in stores- below are a few of my favourites that I came across last week!

On a side note it’s incredible that they can charge so much for something so small but this being our first little baby I have definitely turned a little bit of a blind eye to the prices!Ballerina

one – baby girls lurex knit dress

two – baby girls fur vest

three – baby girl’s lyla baby shoe

four – secret garden crown headband

five – baby party tights

(BONDS have a 40% off everything sale at the moment!)