Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

What a busy few weeks we have had!  My husband's new business launched on July 1st and I have been helping him out with a few projects.  While it's nice to hit the ground running, it has been a very difficult and stressful time.  It hasn't been all work and no play, though.  We've had Miss Five's birthday party of course, and a trip interstate to celebrate a good friend's 40th - lots of good food, wine, and great company!  Oh, and we also adopted another little kitten from the local pet shelter - the very dapper Pierre...

Those mice don't stand a chance now!

I've had no time to plan our meals over the last few weeks, so I was grateful to have had a collection of menu plans to draw from.  This week, I can feel things returning to normal, so it's time to add to that collection of plans and try out some new recipes.

Monday: Vegetable Quiche
Tuesday: Bean Burritos
Wednesday: Mediterranean Pizza
Thursday: Beef stew
Friday: Spicy Lentil Cottage Pie (from Aug 2010 edition of Australian Good taste mag)
Saturday:  Daddy's Special Blue Cheese Burgers (my husband's turn to cook!)
Sunday: Pearl Barley & Rocket Risotto with Pumpkin (from Aug 2010 edition of Australian Good taste mag)

For more menu planning ideas and tips, check out orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bug Party

My apologies for the lateness in posting about Miss Five's bug themed birthday party - the usual excuses apply.  The party was a great success, I think a great time was had by all.  We were blessed with a beautiful winter's day, so the kids were able to go out and burn some of their sugar fueled energy outdoors.  It was a bit of a miracle to have such a beautiful day, as the day before was incredibly cold, wet and windy!

Here are some photos of some other bug themed ideas from the party.  My sister and Miss Seven made some gorgeous table centrepieces, and the birthday girl herself made some pipe cleaner flowers for the table:

Instead of bags packed with lollies and made in China trinkets, I made up some small bucket party favours.  Into the buckets (which are reusable) I put the Bubble Bee Mix, the pencil toppers, and these gingerbread cookies that I made and iced.

Here are the buckets, ready to be handed out:

The buckets also came in handy to store the goodies from the Beehive Pintata that Miss Seven and I made (using these instructions).

Inside the pinata, we put some wrapped lollies, along with a handful of small plastic snakes.  I coundn't resist putting a couple of plastic mice in as well!

What a wonderful day it was - wish we could do it all over again!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bubble Bee Mix

Party preparations are in full swing, with tomorrow being the big day when Miss Four becomes Miss Five.  I have had a lot of fun with the bug theme, it's just a shame I don't have to time to bring all of the ideas I've had to fruition.

Here is a sneak peek at a couple of ideas that did make it....

I couldn't resist making my own labels for these little bottles of bubble mix.  I think they make wonderful party favours!

And I've managed to complete the much anticipated butterfly cake...

I'm really happy with how it has turned out (the colours are a lot darker in the picture as it was taken at night).  My kids have been poring over the birthday cake cookbook (the Australian Women's Weekly "Party Animals") for the last month. The twins have already put their order in for February - and they both want different cakes, of course!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bug Pencil Toppers

It is my daughter's fifth birthday this weekend, and to celebrate we are having a bug themed party (click here to see the party invitations).  Here is a sneak peek at some bug, or creepy crawly pencil toppers I have made as party favours for the kids.  They are really simple to make, you just need some pipe cleaners, googly eyes and some glue! 

Let me introduce you to Mr Bumble Bee (made with one black and 1.5 yellow pipe cleaners):

And here's Miss Spider (made from four pipe cleaners):

Madame Butterfly (made from 3.5 pipe cleaners):

And finally, my favourite, Mr Worm (SO simple to make with just 2 pipe cleaners):

Friday, July 2, 2010

I Hate Meeces To Pieces

 A few weeks ago, I was shocked to witness a wee little mouse scamper into our loungeroom.  It was the first time I had ever seen a mouse in my own house and I was embarassingly freaked out about it!  I immediately went out and bought a couple of mouse traps and reluctantly set them that night.  The next morning, I was secretly relieved to find that the traps had not gone off (even though the cheese was gone).

My husband then suggested that our best option would be to get another cat.  We lost our dear old cat in April, and although I didn't feel ready for another, the thought of the mouse in the house prompted us to go to the local pet shelter and adopt young Kitty.  Yes, I knew that 8 week-old Kitty would be too small to actually catch mice, but I guess I had assumed that her presence would be enough to scare the rodent off.   Clearly I was wrong.

Last week, when I was tucking Miss Three into bed, I saw a mouse run into her room.  I quickly grabbed the traps, cut a couple of pieces of cheese and set the traps.   I think I must have trapped my thumbs about four or five times so my poor thumbs were absolutely aching afterwards...I couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor mouse.  I put one trap in Miss Three's room where I had seen the mouse hide, and the other trap I placed in the same cupboard in which I had set the traps previously.

Next morning, I checked the trap in Miss Three's room and once again found that the clever mouse had managed to pinch the cheese without the trap going off.  I then checked the other trap...poor mouse :-(

For that whole day, I couldn't face opening the cupboard door.  I didn't want to look at the poor little mouse.  I waited until it was dark and placed the mouse, trap and all, in the bin (fortunately I had put the trap on a piece of paper so I didn't have to touch the trap itself).  I was convinced that that was the end of our mouse troubles.  Clearly I was wrong.  Again.

This afternoon I went to get something out of the laundry cupboard.  I noticed that there were some mouse droppings in the bottom of the cupboard so I set about cleaning the cupboard out.  As I neared the bottom, a mouse suddenly shot out.  After I had finished screaming, I ran and grabbed young Kitty and shut her in the laundry with the mouse, hoping that she'd sort the problem out.  She didn't. The mouse was doing too good a job of hiding, so I grabbed a broom and started poking the stuff in the bottom of the cupboard and sure enough, it ran off.  Unfortunately, the mouse ran one way (towards me - more screaming - I thought it was going to run up my leg), and Kitty ran the other.  I think Kitty got more of a fright than I did!

So aside from setting another trap tonight (which may or may not go off) and waiting for Kitty to grow up and develop a viscous streak, I have absolutely no idea about what to do.  If anyone out there knows of any other ways to rid your house of rodents, I would be very appreciative of suggestions.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Challenge: Read a Book Every Month

 I love to read, but I have found that since having children my reading has been largely limited to picture books (most of which I could recite by heart, I've read them so many times) and the odd "Famous Five".  I am also one for setting myself difficult challenges.  Now that all of my kids are finally good sleepers, I decided to make a New Year's resolution in which I will challenge myself to read at least one book every month.   I also extended the challenge to include only books that I have never read before.  At first I intended the challenge to mean I had to start and finish the book within the calendar month, but I ended up relaxing this so that I simply need to read 12 books in one year (although I do still aim to start and finish one within the month, as it makes it easier for me to keep track of where I'm up to).

I'm now six months into the challenge and I have managed to read 8 books so far...
  1. "Vile Bodies" by Evelyn Waugh - not his best, but amusing nevertheless
  2. "Time's Arrow" by Martin Amis - really clever and memorable book, as the story is written in reverse!
  3. "The Haunted Hotel" by Wilkie Collins - he was the original master of suspense...couldn't put it down!
  4. "Atonement" by Ian McEwan - such a beautiful, tragic story
  5. "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut - found it a bit hard to follow, but it was pretty good
  6. "Emma" by Jane Austen - would recommend this to anyone suffering from insomnia!  It's charming, though.
  7. "Carry On, Jeeves" by PG Wodehouse - very funny, everyone needs a Jeeves in their lives!
  8. "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury - struggled a bit with this.  Love the concept, though.
So I'm on target...and loving it!  I had forgotten how much I loved the feeling of reaching the end of one novel, placing it back on the bookshelf, and choosing another.  And not to mention, it's so much more rewarding than watching TV!  Mmmm...that gives me an idea for another challenge.  Stay tuned!