Friday, January 18, 2013

Bunk beds!

We've had bunk beds, loft beds, trundle beds, day beds & toddler beds for our kids (mostly my boys just choose to sleep in our King bed!) But last week I got another set of bunk beds for the boys room (even after swearing a couple of years ago I would NEVER get bunks again!) So why now the change of heart?

We are fortunate in our home to have spacious bedrooms, so the three elder boys share a room. Typically Mr 7 & Mr 9 have had a single & Mr 12 who is only here every other weekend has a trundle that pushes away... Said trundle was getting to be a pain! Which Iv particularly noticed while he has been here for a lengthier stay over the holidays.. For 1, he is in the middle of the room on a trundle, which makes for interesting navigating in the dark.. For 2 on the trundle he slept alongside Mr 7 & Mr 12 snores which makes Mr 7 freak out & 3. Getting the trundle in & out every night & asking a preteen to 'neatly' put it away each morning just isn't happening..

So yes, I resorted to a bunk bed in hopes that Mr 12 will get a better nights sleep & the room will function better with a more organised approach. A fan of Facebook Garage Sales I was able to pick up an IKEA Tromso Bunk bed in VGC (surprisingly it was! Like new!) for $100 & installed it where Mr 9's single bed was. Yay? Not so.. Mr 7 wasn't impressed... "Why don't I get a bunk bed?" "Where's my bunk bed" "I want to sleep on a bunk" "It's not fair.." etc etc & every other variation of the afore mentioned whine x 1000.

Enter... Compromise! Mummy put on her thinking cap & decided that if Mr 7 can learn to go to bed by himself in the evenings (after story time of course! I cant go cold turkey!) without me sitting at the end of his bed each night we will buy him bunks too :) lucky IKEA still stocks the same bunks! And although he will have to start on the bottom bunk he can still work his way to the top bunk.. That seemed to make Mr 7 very happy & the tears stopped instantaneously! Win/win.

So we're taking baby steps at the moment.. Iv gone from laying in his bed, to sitting on the end, to sitting on a chair.. I don't know how I'll go when I no longer have to be there when he dozes off, it's become such a part of our nighttime routine.. I will probably miss it more than he does :) Isn't that always the way?

Meals - Week 1

Monday: Spaghetti Bolognaise

Always a family favourite & has been for as long as I can remember. It's my Mum's signature dish & when she returned to work when we were in high school we'd often get 'Spag Bol' twice a week! My Brother & I can both make a mean Spaghetti Bolognaise & it's something ALL the kids will eat so it's been a recipe well worth learning ~ thanks Mum :)

What You Will Need (serves 6-8 hungry people)
1kg of Beef Mince (you can vary it with pork or Chicken etc)
1 tin of whole peeled tomatoes
1 x 750g jar of Tomato based spaghetti sauce
1 x packet of fettuccine or pasta of choice (Hubby & I have rice)
4 x Mushrooms
2 x small onions
Handful of Kalamata olives
Salt & Pepper
BBQ Sauce
Grated Carrot
Grated Zucchini (or diced but this way the kids don't see it!)
Grated cheese or Parmesan cheese for serving :)
Garlic Bread if you would like it to stretch even further.

Start by browning the mince & onion in a frying pan over a medium heat. While this is happening you can pop the pasta & or rice in to cook & preheat the oven for the garlic bread.

When the mince & onion is browned, add the grated carrot, zucchini & mushroom & stir in until cooked. (pop the garlic bread in to cook @ this point)

Add the tinned tomatoes & crushed tomatoes & stir well. Sprinkle over the sugar & season with the salt, pepper & BBQ sauce.

Add the olives. Turn the heat down & allow it to simmer for 1/2 hour until all the wonderful flavours have combined.

Serve with the pasta or rice & add grated or Parmesan cheese to the top :) Yummo!

Great to freeze & use for work lunches or those nights you just couldn't be bothered cooking! :)

Slow cooker chicken soup without veggies. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup:

This meal is great if you need to set & forget something in the morning. It is cheap & cheerful & is a family hit in our home. I love it warmed up the next day as like any good soup or stew I love how they taste so much better the day after.. All thick & flavoursome! You can cook this in a stock pot or large saucepan if you prefer.

What you will need:
Slow Cooker chicken soup with veggies. 

8 Chicken Drumsticks (1.5kg?)
Chicken stock cubes or liquid stock
4 washed potatoes, skin optional - cut into chunky quarters.
1/4 Kent Pumpkin diced
2 onions
2 sticks of celery
3 carrots
6-8 whole mushrooms (you can cut them up)
Salt and Pepper
Cornflour to thicken
Mixed veggies such as peas, corn, broccoli etc.

Add the chicken drumsticks to the slow cooker, pop in 2 quartered onions & fill with water til the drumsticks are just covered. Add the potatoes, pumpkin, celery & carrots. Set & forget ( I use the auto setting)

After a little while the smell will drive you insane, at this point go & check on the progress & add the stock cubes, sprinkle approx 3-4 over the soup. Add your salt & pepper, mushrooms & mixed veggies.

Once again leave it to its own devices.. About 1/2 hour before serving shred the chicken meat from the drumsticks, it should come away very easily. Mind you take out all the bones & end bits etc. you can pull it apart as chunky or as fine as you like.

Add the cornflour & allow it to sit for a further 1/2 hour until thick.

Serve.. Tastes great with crusty bread & butter! Also a great winter comfort food!

Chicken, Tomato & Olive Bake

We had this dinner tonight & it was truly amazing.. So amazingly delicious I forgot to take its picture! I have a great cast iron baking dish which we used to create this yummy dish & it was perfect for oven baking this dish. A Pyrex dish or casserole dish would serve the same purpose & it could also be slow cooked!

You will need;
4 whole chicken breast without skin.
Tin of whole peeled tomatoes
2 onions
Cup of Kalamata Olives
8 whole mushrooms
Jar of tomato cooking sauce or pasta sauce etc.
Rice or pasta to serve.

You can start by browning your chicken & onion in a frying pan, particularly if you are time poor, however, if you have time on your side, you are able to add them to the pot uncooked. Add a little oil & pop this in the oven at 200 degrees & cook until browned. When the chicken & onion is cooking through nicely, add the tinned tomatoes & the mushrooms/olives & return the dish to the oven at 180 to cook through. When all the ingredients are cooked add the tomato cooking sauce, salt and pepper to taste & pop on your pasta/rice or garlic bread to accompany your meal. Allow the dish to simmer until you can no longer stand the smell anymore & you just HAVE to eat it! Serve with the pasta / rice & enjoy!

I'll take a piccy of this next week I promise ;)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Big Family Menu Planning..

One of the most challenging things I find with having 5 kids is what to set out to eat & what to have for dinner! When there is only Mr 7 & Mr 1 at home to cater for, we are able to shop more freely at places such as Woolies & Coles. But enter Mr 12, Miss 11 & Mr 9 to the mix & I find myself drawn to Aldi, my top brands becoming home brands very quickly!!! We just seem to go through & need so much food! Particularly on the holidays!

So this week I decided I would return to my 'Meal Planning Mondays' which you will be able to catch on the blog each Monday (usually Tuesday ~ slack!) & I would document some of the larger meals that I cook for our family of 7.

On the whole I try to cater for each of the kids tastes & where possible I try to make the meals toddler friendly. I also have a stash of Rafferty's Garden Meals & a few Sui Min for those nights when all the kids palette's aren't catered for, but generally I can keep everyone happy with a few tweaks here & there - For example Mr 7 is our fussiest eater so if he doesn't like the fish we are eating, I will give him tuna, ham or fish fingers etc as a substitute yet he will still eat the veggies the rest of the family are eating.

Since all the kids came home 1 week ago, for the first few days I forgot how much I needed to feed our mini army, so found myself back at the shops every day. The other day I bit the bullet & actually went & shopped for what we needed & although I spent $200, at least I haven't been back! (aside from bread tonight at the servo) & I even managed to shop @ Coles (it's for the Fly Buys I swear, plus that whole RAOK thing they have going on @ Aldi makes me feel left out & under far too much pressure! ~ Thanks Aldi Mum) LOL.

If you know you need 5 loaves of bread to make it through the week, there is no sense in buying 1. It's the same with big family supplies, you can't buy one packet of 8 sausages (unless you only eat one sausage each of course) you have to think BULK! So I headed to the deli & got 300g of ham, 2kg of Chicken Drumsticks, 1kg of Mince, 22 sausages & some massive bulk buy of chicken breast & it was here I started my planning. I decided on Spaghetti Bolognaise, Chicken Soup, Apricot Chicken, Gourmet Sausage sizzle & salmon patties.

I then went to buy my veggies. Usually a fan of veggie markets, my timing of my big shop was all out of sync with the markets so I ended up getting my supplies at Coles too. I buy 2kg of potatoes, 1kg of carrots, zucchini's, shallots, mushrooms & corn on the cob. I then get my salad items such as rocket & spinach, tomatoes, cucumber & capsicum. I tend to buy items such as broccoli, cauliflower, peas, corn & beans frozen as they are items I tend to waste the items when fresh otherwise. I usually buy 2kg of frozen veg.

I tend to cook dinner either in the slow cooker so I can prepare it all in the morning or I'll start cooking at 5:00 in the afternoon so Mr 1 can eat with us too by 6:00. I still stick with this routine summer or winter & it only deviates if the kids have sport or an activity on that might push it back a little, in which case I'll use the slow cooker that night (or the fast cooker at Pizza Hut lol)

I'll put up the recipe's on a separate post as its midweek & I haven't made all the meals from my meal plan as yet. Tonight's meal didn't go to plan as we ended up with a very late lunch @ the beach, so had toasted sandwiches when we got home instead, but so far Iv got Spaghetti Bolognaise & Slow Cooker Chicken Soup to pop up.

If your catering for a large family how do you go about planning dinners & what types of meals do you favour?

Happy Birthday to Me. Turning 32..

A birthday shot c/o Hubby :)
Yesterday I turned 32, I had a lovely day down the coast with my wonderful husband & children who treated me to a shopping expedition & an afternoon at the beach.. Very spoilt :) Theres just something so relaxing about an afternoon spent at the beach. The kids playing in the sand & paddling in the water, so peaceful. A lovely way to spend one's birthday..

Soaking up the Sunshine..
Having fun at the park @ Broadbeach GC
Our Little Water Baby
Heads down, bums up.. the boys loved playing in the sand & water
If I look at where I am today I am happy with my life in most respects. I have a wonderful husband, have 2 wonderful boys (and the honour of calling 3 others my own), my family is great (although we don't catch up often enough), we have a comfortable home & I'm fortunate enough to have a great career under my belt with teaching (even though I don't do much with it at present) So where I'm sitting at 32 is pretty comfortable.

So furthering this, today I sat down & contemplated my 33rd year of life.. What do I want to accomplish this year? Where do I want to be in 1 years time from now.. Do I want to improve things, are there things I need to change or are there things that need to be eliminated from my life?

This year I would like to focus on reducing the stress in my life.. I feel that stress is making me feel ten times older and it's something I need to address. There were a few hurdles in the past year that I jumped & although I stumbled from time to time I was thankfully able to land on my feet in the end. Setting regular routines for the Children, getting Miss 11's ADHD better managed and working on being more organised overall will help I am sure.

Eliminating debt.. Due to some poor judgement calls I made in my early twenties I had some personal debt that followed me about for quite some time. I found out the other day that my credit rating resets itself in March this year, so im rather pleased about that! :) This year it is my goal to start putting aside some savings.
I would like to start up a hobby or a sport.. I dont really have any hobbies or sports under my belt as I stopped playing sport back in year 11, however, last year I took my son to Tae Kwon Do and really enjoyed it. Perhaps we could start up again when the term starts and take it from there. I did martial arts for 9 years when I was younger so it was something I felt comfortable with.  Other than that, walking and swimming are going to be high on my agenda this year too!
Catching up with friends and or making friends would be nice.. I dont really have a great social life as my Husband is my best friend & my family are my friends LOL.  The only friends I do have I rarely see, so I would like to forge some friendships based on common interests or even with fellow Mum's that 'get me' this year.  I plan on branching out to a playgroup now that Mr 1 is a little older so perhaps I will meet some like minded people there (although it's scary to think there may be people like me in the world out there somewhere! LOL)
Aside from that, I dont see any babies in my future this year although I have been thinking more and more about 'finishing' our family with one more addition and getting increasingly cluckier as Mr 1 gets older, however, the other night I decided  to wait until next year (and then i'll see how I feel about baby #3/ child #6)  Increasing my health, finishing off the reno's to our home, sorting out some of the kids issues, running after a very active toddler and spending some time with my boys will keep me well and truly occupied enough this year I feel.. and then some! 
So Happy Belated Birthday to Me, See you at 33! 

And the Winner Is.. (2Kool4Skool Giveaway)

Congratulations to

Joyce Tan!

You are the winner of our 2Kool4Skool prize pack!  Please check your email or alternatively email  to claim your awesome prize. 

Congratulations again and thank you to all that entered & thank you to


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Meal Planning Monday (Week Ending 20th January 2013)

Spaghetti Bolognaise - A family favourite
Yes it's Tuesday once again & I had meant to type this up last night but I fell asleep with the iPad on my head so didn't get very far with much last night at all.. Exhaustion from my Birthday celebrations I'm sure.. :) This week I'm meal planning for 2 adults, 4 children & 1 toddler. This week I'm going to be blogging about meal ideas for larger families (smaller families will have great freezer leftovers!)

My meal plan is as follows;

MONDAY : Spaghetti Bolognaise
TUESDAY: Sausage sizzle with the lot!
WEDNESDAY: Homemade Chicken Soup w/crusty bread rolls
THURSDAY: Salmon Patties w/ Salad.
FRIDAY: Tomato, Onion & Olive Chicken (slow cooker) served w/ Pasta.
SATURDAY: Baked Fish (Hoki) with vegetables.
SUNDAY: Apricot Chicken w/ rice. (slow cooker)

Bake List:
Chocolate cake
Choc chip cookies

Recipe's to follow shortly...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winners of the Facebook 2Kool4Skool Pencil Case Giveaway

The winners of the 2Kool4Skool Satchel Style Pencil Cases from the Facebook giveaway are;

* Belinda B
* Michelle V.


Please check your email or send me an email at to claim your prize :)  Be sure to enter my blog giveaway for entries close on Wednesday and will be announced on the blog on Thursday 17th January.

Good Luck!