01 July 2015

Charlotte’s “woodland” room reveal

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Considering Charlotte has been in her ‘new room’ for over 6 months now, you could probably say that this reveal is long overdue. Just a tad….IMG_2759

But the whole thing was rather bittersweet, really.

Moving C from the nursery to her new room was a big reminder that she is not so little anymore. Sure we were making way for the newest addition to our family, and we had fun picking out a theme together and watching it come to life, but I couldn’t help but feel that the last 3 years have gone by way too quickly.

C’s room had previously been the dreaded spare room. You know the one – filled to the brim with all manner of random things – old baby toys, furniture, clothes…Although after we cleaned out all of the clutter that had inevitably filled the room (and relocated most of it to cupboards and the garage), we literally started with a blank canvas!

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And I was adamant about two things.

First – that it had to be a room that would ‘grow’ with C ie. nothing too age specific.

And second - that we would have wallpaper – specifically this tree wallpaper - from Cole & Son.

Mr BBB indulged the latter request – and too many pennies later (and an afternoon spent gluing and ruing measurements), a forest feature wall had appeared on that previously blank canvas!

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Actually, it was the wallpaper that really set the scene for the rest of the room – which ended up taking on a woodland feel.

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We bought a king single bed, along with a trundle for future sleepovers, and picked up a cheap bedside table and lamp from Fantastic. The bedspread was a Kmart special, as were the cushions.

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And, you may even recognise a few of the other decorations in the room… the handmade bunting above the window being one - which was recycled from C’s 2nd birthday party!

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The other main furniture addition to the room was this gorgeous dresser that we picked up from Ikea (and spent too many hours assembling).

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With another little decoration recycled from another party – this time a bunny from C’s 3rd birthday table!

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A favourite ‘space saver’ feature in the room would have to be this hanging basket which is the perfect “catch-all” for the multitude of teddies C has collected over the years.

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The basket takes pride of place over the little reading nook we created at the end of the bed - featuring the chair that used to be in C’s nursery. Now no longer a nursing chair – but a comfy place to snuggle up and read stories together each night before bed!

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As for the rest of the room – well it is still a bit of a work in progress. I’m yet to decide on bookshelves etc – so for now a selection of books lives in a little basket.

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But I am pleased to report that C has settled in beautifully to her “big girl” room – which should hopefully suit for years to come.

What about you? Had fun styling any rooms in your house recently?

29 June 2015

Breakfast for dinner

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There are some dishes I am almost 100% guaranteed to order if I see them on the menu. Chicken salads, pad thai and, in the case of breakfast, anything involving smashed avocado and poached eggs.

We discovered a new local cafe that serves my favourite breakfast combination a little while ago, and it was so good that I couldn’t wait to have it again. But, this time, we opted to create our own version at home.

For dinner.

For why limit breakfast dishes to the morning!??

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I started by roasting some cherry tomatoes, that were simply halved, drizzled with olive oil, and baked for 20 minutes or so.

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Throwing in some slices of good sourdough at the end – to crisp a little.

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Then, while I had a couple eggs poaching, I pulled together the remaining toppings – avocado, fresh basil, pesto and feta.

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Piled high, and drizzled with some caramelised balsamic vinegar – and boy did our tastebuds sing!

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Creamy avocado + sweet tomatoes + gorgeously runny free range eggs….

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Yep pretty much a match made in heaven!

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What about you? Are you a fan of breakfast for dinner?

23 June 2015

Things we learned on our weekend away

This past weekend, we loaded up the car and headed down the Hume – to celebrate my brother's 30th birthday in Melbourne. And while it is a trip I’ve done many times over the years, we still learned quite a few things along the way.

1. Road trips with two kiddies are a far cry from road-trips with adults. Gone are the long interrupted conversations, replaced with over the top renditions of various nursery rhymes, endless demands for car snacks and general panic when an urgent toilet request is made.

2. Adding in an overnight stay half way though – both on the way down and back - was a perfect way to break up the trip for all.

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3. Sharing a single motel room with 2 kids will inevitably be…interesting. Miss C seemed to enjoy the adventure of it all  - despite being thoroughly confused when we told her there was no lounge-room.

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4. Country bakeries will undoubtedly be a source of“amazement” for the littlest members of the family, while also providing much needed coffee and carbs for the older members!

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5. To go to Melbourne and not have fish and chips for dinner, would be a travesty indeed.

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6. Having a sibling who is happy to brave the cold and fog to join you on a run, on his birthday nonetheless, is pretty damn awesome.

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7.  The years are ticking by all too quickly – for it feels like only yesterday my brother was the cute little choir kid in primary school?!

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8. Early mornings are the perfect time to sneak in a run - before the kids wake and before having to sit in the car for the journey home.

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8. Introducing your newest daughter to her GREAT grandfather – who is 95 and going strong – is nothing short of magical. A special moment indeed.

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10. You will return home with a crumb-filled car, a little sleep deprived and with a mountainous washing pile. But happy and content after a great weekend away.

What about you? Been on any road trips recently?

18 June 2015

Curried sausages

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Growing up, both my parents worked shift work, so it wasn’t unusual for the household chores – including cooking – to be divided up amongst the family members. And, hands down, when it was Dad’s turn to cook – you could be sure that there was curry powder involved. And minted peas tarnishing my beloved macaroni cheese – but we won’t dredge up that horrific memory….

Back to the curry!

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One evening, not so long ago, I found myself paying homage to those curry-filled days – with none other than a good ol’ batch of curried sausages.

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A one pot meal – filled with flavour and spice.

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Although I’m not sure that our childhood version was served with couscous, natural yoghurt and fresh parsley???

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A deliciously spicy, belly-warming tribute nonetheless!

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Curried sausages (serves 4-6)

  • 6 thick sausages
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 400g diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1tbs cornflour + 1 tbs water
  • natural yoghurt, couscous and chopped parsley, to serve
  1. Place sausages in a large pan, and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cook for 3 minutes. Remove from water and slice.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a large casserole dish. Add the onion and carrot and cook until starting to soften. Add the curry powder, and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the brown sugar, stock, tomatoes – and return the sausages to the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the peas, and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Combine the cornflour and water, and add to the sausages to thicken the sauce. Cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Serve portions of the curried sausages with couscous, natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of parsley.

What about you? What dishes did your Dad love to cook?

16 June 2015

Pork, tomato and barley stew

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Friends, the barley obsession continues, as does my love for slow cooked one-pot meals.

And this tasty little stew did not fail to please.

Pork shoulder, cooked slowly in a gorgeous tomato sauce, with the addition of  barley to really make it something special.

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Finished with  rocket and olives, and some crusty bread on the side for dipping.

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Yes our bellies were singing the praises of this tasty little mid-week meal, and it has certainly been added to the repertoire.

Pork, tomato and barley stew (adapted from Supergrains) – serves 4-6

  • 1kg diced pork shoulder
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100g speck, diced
  • 1.5 tbs paprika
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbs honey

Rocket, green olives, parsley and crusty bread to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a large oven-proof pan over a medium heat. Add the pork, in batches, cooking until brown. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and speck to the pan, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the paprika, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sherry and allow to evaporate. Add the tomato, tomato paste, barley and stock, and stir to combine.
  5. Return the pork to the pan, cover, and cook in the oven for 2-2.5 hours (add more stock if the stew is starting to dry out) Stir through honey.
  6. Serve with bread, rocket, sliced green olives and chopped parsley.

10 June 2015

Pearl barley, turkey and asparagus salad with lime tahini dressing

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I cant help but feel a little sorry for the ol’ traditional grains.

For with the emergence of the new ‘cool’ grains (freekeh, millet, teff… I’m looking at you!) well some of the ones I grew up with seem to have been forgotten.  Perhaps even labelled a little dorky. I’m sure they will be rediscovered again by the populous at some point, but for now they appear to have been cast to one side.

Or to the back of the pantry, at least.

Well not in this household. For I am loving pearl barley at the moment. Cheap, quick and easy to prepare, and so much more versatile than simply being a a staple in my Mum’s vegetable soup!

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Recently, I cooked up a batch of pearl barley and used it as the ‘filler’ in our dinner salad. Combined with zucchini, grilled asparagus, mint, chives and craisins – and dressed in a lime/tahini dressing, well it was a rather tasty addition to our weekly menu plan.

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On this occasion, I opted to add some grilled turkey breasts for a little extra protein kick. But I have no doubt the salad would have worked fine by itself as a vegetarian main or side dish.

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Yes, pearl barley, I have not forgotten you or your wonderful nutty chewiness! You are a keeper, for sure.

Pearl barley, turkey and asparagus salad – serves 2

  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 zucchini, cut into ribbons
  • mint leaves and chopped chives
  • 1 tbs craisins
  • 2 turkey breast steaks, pan-fried and sliced.
  • 1 tbs tahini
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  1. Place pearl barley in 1.5 cups water in a small saucepan. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, spray asparagus with a little olive oil and season. Grill until tender then slice. Blanch zucchini in boiling water, then drain.
  3. Combine the tahini, olive oil and lime juice in a small bowl, and set aside.
  4. Place prepared pearl barley, asparagus, zucchini, herbs and craisins in a bowl and toss to combine. Divide among serving plates, top with sliced turkey and drizzle with the lime tahini dressing.

What about you? Are you a fan of pearl barley?

08 June 2015

Nutty Brownies

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I’ve been feeling a rather nutty lately. Perhaps it is the baby-induced-sleep-interruptions, or the 4000 things that seem to be circling through my head. Or perhaps it is just a case of I’m getting older and a little more senile.

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Either way, making these nut-filled brownies felt like the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon in the kitchen. Certainly not allergy friendly for the ‘nut ban’ days we live in, but perfectly rich and indulgent for those that have no nut allergy issues.

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The recipe appealed to me from the pages of a recent favourite cookbook… 

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and with a few substitutions (think peanut butter in place of macadamia butter etc), we soon found ourselves with a big batch of chewy rich brownies that did not take long to disappear.

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Yes, I think these were a perfectly nutty tribute to my apparently nutty brain!

What about you? Are you a fan of brownies?