Thursday, September 30, 2010


Mums in work and Dad let me loose with the whipped cream!

From Rhiannon

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Morning tea.

I love Morning Tea here in Australia. A chance to catch up with friends over a cuppa and maybe something sweet. 
Normally if you invite someone to Morning Tea you would have some sweet treat ready to tempt them with. Not if you invite Sian. If you invite this wonderful girl to Morning Tea you can sit back and let her do all the hard work. 
Today was Mini Oreo Cheescakes. Wicked on the waistline but wonderful on the taste buds!!!

80g butter, melted
250g crushed OREO Cookies
375g block PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 teaspoons gelatine, dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
200g Melted White Chocolate
1 cup cream, lightly whipped
100g OREO Cookies, broken.
50g OREO Chocolate Crème Cookies, extra, roughly chopped

Combine the butter with 250g of crushed cookies.
Press into the base of a 20cm tin or individual muffin trays.
Beat Philadelphia and sugar.
Mix in gelatine, white chocolate and cream.
Mix through the 100g of broken cookies
Pour on top of the prepared base.
Chill for 3 hours.

Decorate with roughly chopped Oreos and Strawberries.

Go visit Anne and have a cup of tea and a chat!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Summer Wishlist No:25

No: 25 Grow our own small veggie garden

Friday, September 24, 2010

Watch this space!

Rhiannon is our middle daughter. She is the mad arty one. The one who dances to her own tune wearing mismatching stripy socks and whatever other colourful clothes she can get her hands on!

Not surprisingly she was chosen as one of three kids from her class to go on an " Art Appreciation Day"
She was told to bring a frame with her to bring home her finished piece of art work. She very proudly brought home this....

I think it reflects her colourful nature. You never know, you may just be visiting this masterpiece in a gallery near you some day. You can say you knew her when she was just starting her career!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A snapshot of Australia.

I was asked by a fellow blogger if I would send her some of my photos showing where in Australia we live. She wanted to feature them on a "Wordless Wednesday" post where you post pictures with minimal amounts of words. I guess you just let the pictures do the talking.

I had fun trawling through the thousands of photos on my computer and finally sent her a selection of my favourites. She has posted some of them on her blog today and I thought you might enjoy having a look.

You can see them here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Summer Wishlist No:21

No:21 Bounce on the trampoline with the hose-pipe

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Summer Wishlist No:26

 No:26 Have pancakes for breakfast

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Summer Wishlist.

When the sun came out this weekend we all felt the adrenaline rush of excitement from the warm weather and the endless possibilities of a new Summer on it's way.

As we drove to the beach the kids talked over one another and competed with my singing along to Good Charlotte on the radio. They were stating their list of requests for the things they wanted to do as the weather warms up. In my happy sunny mood I was nodding yes to them all but then started to lose count of the things I was agreeing to so I grabbed a scrap of paper and started scribbling. I could hardly keep up with the ideas. Here are some of them in no particular order...

  1. Go fishing.
  2. Go to Manly in Sydney on a ferry.
  3. Play beach rugby. (Without  Byron dislocating a shoulder)
  4. Make home-made raspberry ice cream from Granny's recipe book.
  5. Swim in the pool (Too easy?!)
  6. Swim in the sea (Ditto!)
  7. Go to the Drive-in cinema (never been to one before)
  8. Have a night-time swim
  9. Make the kids cook us dinner one evening without help (As seen on Shalom in the home)
  10. Drink Champagne like it's my birthday! (Chorus of Good Charlotte on the radio!)
  11. Hire a local tennis court for a family game of tennis. (Have been promising to do this for years)
  12. Go camping overnight as a family.  (Even if it is in the backyard) 
  13. Go to the iMax theatre in Sydney's Darling Harbour to watch a 3D movie.
  14. Make a home-made curry from scratch (Mr B)
  15. Wear a bikini for the first time since having kids (Me not Mr B!)
  16. Go on a bush-walk.
  17. Learn how to Skateboard (Sian)
  18. Have a picnic breakfast overlooking the sea at sunrise.
  19. Have a meal overlooking the sea at sunset. 
  20. Roast marshmallows over a camp-fire. (Or over a candle if there is a fire ban like in most Aussie summers!)
  21. Bounce on the trampoline with the hose-pipe. 
  22. Let the kids use the camera so I can be in more of the photos and not always taking them.
  23. Have friends do a sleepover in our house (Like you don't do that every school holidays kids!)
  24. Have a beach body-boarding day (Think there will be a few of these)
  25. Grow our own small veggie garden (Even just tomatoes would be an achievement)
  26. Have pancakes for breakfast
  27. Do cartwheels on the beach. 
  28. Have fun making (and drinking) cocktails using the glasses I got from my mum two years ago....
  29. Go to Dippin Dots ice cream shop (Yes, kids, you are going to nag till we cross this one off the list)
  30. Hire a boat for the day 
  31. Order a special number plate so we can legally use our bike rack and go cycling further a field than our area.
  32. Cycle the Fernleigh cycle track in Newcastle
  33. Try to go on a couple of  "Date nights" with Mr B
  34. Jump off a rock (Gareth)
  35. End the summer school holidays with a family meal at the local Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant.

I wonder how many we will actually achieve? It will be fun to cross them off the list as we do them. Some are easy and free and some will take a bit more planning and a bit of money. Hopefully we will never have a day when the kids say they are bored. If so I'll get them to read their list and find something that they can cross off.

Have you any ideas of things we should add on?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Sing Hallelujah, the sun has re-appeared!

After weeks and weeks of Australian winter I am severely lacking in vitamin D and my Irish skin is looking pasty as a bottle of cows milk. When we emigrated here I left behind all our winter clothing and gloves, hats, scarves etc because we were moving to the land of eternal sunshine. No-one told me that I might still need a credit card to scrape the ice off my car in the morning. No-one told me that Australians needed woolly jumpers. I thought I would wear t-shirts and sarongs 52 weeks of the year. I learned the truth fast enough and went shopping.

This weekend we got a sneak preview of what the coming weeks have to offer. Spring arrived in all it's sunshiny glory. We sat outside for lunch on Saturday and watched Byron cooking sausages on the barbie. We sipped ice-cold Irish cider from glasses with beads of condensation rolling down the sides. The kids bounced on the trampoline in their swimmers and tipped watering cans of cold water over each other to squeals of delight. We jumped in the car and went for a long walk on the beach. After a day in the sunshine Byron's skin has miraculously changed to bronze. I swear it looks like he had been at my fake tan. My skin still glows like newly fallen snow but I'm smiling again. I feel the energy. I found my mojo. I even brewed up some more green tea and retrieved my Pilates DVD from the trash can and gave it another go.

I love you Spring. Bring it on baby!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Liquid health.

Do you remember the 12 week challenge I organised a few months ago? It was in response to my GP telling me to lose 10kgs (22 pounds)  Well in the 12 weeks that I sweated, exercised and dieted I lost just over half the weight. Then I took a month off. I was getting fed up of being the food police in work where my colleagues were doing the challenge with me. I returned to normal and brought in muffins and pigged out on the chocolates that departing patients left behind. I did however keep up the exercise and found that although I stopped losing weight I didn't gain any.

After a month of pigging out the people around me in work started talking about doing another challenge. The 1st of September was the first day of spring here in Australia so that's when we started again. $10 to join up, I weighed everyone, measured their Body Mass Index, told them their healthy weight range and how much weight they should lose to have a healthy BMI, did a body scan that measures body fat, muscle and water percentages and then sent them on their way to make whatever healthy changes to their diet and lifestyle over the coming weeks.

You would think that at the start of a new health kick my motivation would be high? It's not. I'm tired and cranky. I need something more than exercising in the garage after a day on the wards. Something more than Weight watchers zero point soup at lunchtime. So I tried green tea. It is supposed to help you to maximise fat loss while dieting and exercising. Just the kind of thing I needed to hear. Doesn't this google image make it look attractive...

So for the last two weeks I have been brewing up a litre of green tea each day and drinking it by the cupful. I can't say I love the taste. I like milk in my tea and drinking a tea straight from brewing lacks comfort. But who said exercising and weight loss was about comfort?! Sometimes I drank it hot. One day I brought it in cold to work in a plastic bottle. My workmates delighted in telling me how much it looked like a bad urine sample...

After two weeks I was excited. I had avoided weighing myself but decided that it was now or never! How much fat had melted away, dissolved by my cups of bitter goodness? Wait for it... Sit down.... I lost a grand total of... 0.2kgs! Yes folks that's just under half a pound. I cannot express my excitement... or lack thereof.  So tonight I am sitting down to watch a movie with a different health drink, a great big glass of Merlot. I hear it has great cardiac benefits and I'm willing to try it.

I'll let you know how I get on...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Rachel's Birthday Video ft. Hugh Jackman & NZ PM John Key

This video is amazing. It hit the media here in Australia this week. I'm not sure if you live outside of Australia that you will have heard about it so I thought I would blog it to share.

Here is the background...

Sydneysider Kristian Anderson, 35, has been having chemotherapy since he was diagnosed with cancer in October 2009. He made the video for his wife of seven years, Rachel, as a birthday present and a thank-you for her support.

The video features cameos by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key -- since Rachel is a Kiwi -- and Hugh Jackman, who appeared in the video after Kristian asked Triple M's The Grill presenter Gus Worland for help.

It sure makes me appreciate having Byron and myself in good health. I guess you never know what the future will hold. For now this video makes me want to live every day to the max.

If you want to visit Kristian's blog to read more about his family and his battle with bowel cancer just click here.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Old meets New..

I took my camera to Sydney with me yesterday and took a few photos. We wandered through some quiet backstreets in an area called "The Rocks"

Rhiannon had recently been on a school excursion to this area and we asked her to be our tour guide. She told us about how the convicts were used to build many of the old buildings and that they made the concrete using sand from the beaches. She pointed out lots of little shells dotted in the mortar between the big sandstone rocks.

As we walked alongside the walls and ran our hands over their rough texture I closed my eyes and imagined those first settlers working in the harsh Australian heat lifting backbreaking slabs of rocks and building the city that we walked around today. Then I opened my eyes and spotted the most gorgeous window sat in a deep recess. I talked Sian into posing for the camera and loved the end result.

Those poor men working back in 1815. If they could have looked 200 years into the future what would they have thought? Would they have been frustrated by us living our easy lives and would they have whipped Sian into shape and got her doing some real hard labour or would they be proud that their work stands strong to be enjoyed by us today...

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Fathers Day

I'm really lucky. I fell in love with a cute guy 16 years ago. He had a cheeky sense of humour and a great bum! We lived in different countries and had only met about 6 times before he proposed. I never really analysed it or thought too hard. I just blurted out YES! Some people would (and did) say that I was young and naive. That holiday romances don't last but here we are 16 years later with three kids.

I watch him with the kids and it makes me realise how lucky I am. Lucky that the cute guy with the great butt actually hung around, learned how to change nappies and actually seems to like being with his kids, and me! In fact dare I say that I often think he is the better parent. He doesn't get hung up on whether the house is tidy or what's for dinner. He just has fun. He laughs with them and in return they make him double up and laugh till he can't breathe.

Granted I don't always appreciate this behaviour. It makes meal times a challenge when I feel like I am nagging 4 kids to eat up not 3kids and an adult. Or when we are on a train like this evening, travelling home from Sydney. Two hours of Byron and the kids throwing paper airplanes at each other and pulling goofy faces in the window reflections and I was nearly ready to swap seats. I just couldn't decide which commuter to sit next to. There were so many of them sending sympathetic glances my way....

My point is this...

Mr B you are wonderful
I couldn't have chosen a better man to have kids with
You are the man I am proud to call my children's father.
I love you
P.S. You still have a cute ...!

Friday, September 03, 2010

40hr Famine

There is a fund-raising initiative called the 40hr Famine. It is a charity that encourages teenage kids to give up something for 40 hours in return for sponsorship from family and friends. It should come with a serious health warning. This fund-raiser puts family members at risk of heart attack or even death. I'll tell you how.

Sian decided to give up talking. Not an easy thing for a 12 year old. She was communicating in hand gestures and facial expression. She came home from a friends house wearing casual clothes and with her school uniform in a bag. When I spotted the bag on the ground I tipped the contents into the top-loader washing machine that had started 5 minutes before. She went to walk upstairs to bed and I reminded her to "park" her iPod touch in the charger downstairs (No Internet access allowed in the bedrooms for cyber safety etc etc) Sian nodded then looked at me and pointed at the empty clothes bag. My interpretation? That I had tipped the iPod into the washing machine along with the clothes. Cue me screaming and running into the laundry, opening the lid and submerging my upper body in the suds frantically seaching for expensive electrical gadget that she had saved so hard for. All unnecessary because Sians nod and shrug was meant to convey that the iPod was already parked and she just wanted to know where to put the empty bag...

That's the risk of heart attack explained.

The other person who's health was endangered was her fathers. When he heard that Sian was going to abstain from all talking for the next 40 hours he asked how much it would cost him in sponsorship to join me up too...

That's the risk of death explained.