Saturday, May 23, 2009

Apple, Cranberry and Gingernut Crumble

One of my family's favourite desserts are fruit crumbles. My husband and the kids like them because they are warming, and sweet, and soft and crunchy, all at once. I like them because they are easy to make, and any way my kids will eat a whole bowl of fruit in one sitting is a good thing for me!

This crumble is great when you don't have much time to prep it up, but you can let it sit in the oven for an hour.

4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

1/3 cup Craisins (dried cranberries)

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)

1 packet (about 12) gingernut biscuits (cookies), crushed

1/3 cup quick oats

1/4 cup LSA mix (ground linseeds (flaxseeds), sunflowers and almonds - great source of omega 3 oils)

3 tbsp softened unsalted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 170C/375F.
  2. Grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish with cooking spray or butter
  3. In a large bowl, toss together apples, cranberries, lemon juice, brown sugar and cornflour. Place in baking dish
  4. In a smaller bowl, stir together biscuit crumbs, oats and LSA mix. Mix in butter with your fingers until mixture is crumbly.
  5. Sprinkle over apple mixture, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Serve with warm vanilla custard or icecream.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Best Ever Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

When I say that these are the best ever blueberry buttermilk pancakes, I am not exaggerating. They are golden on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, bursting with blueberry juiciness and not overly sweet. The pictures of my two littlies scoffing them down is all the proof you need!

And did I add that they are ridiculously easy to make?
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup canola or other light vegetable oil
1 cup blueberries (today I used 1 punnet of fresh and 1/2 cup of thawed frozen)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and oil.
  3. Using a large spoon or spatula, mix the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until just combined (batter will still be a bit lumpy).
  4. Carefully stir through blueberries.
  5. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into greased hot frypan for each pancake, and cook for about 2 minutes per side.
  6. Serve and enjoy!!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Giveaway winner!

I'm sorry this is so late, but I totally forgot to annouce the winner of the Wee Art Cards giveaway. The winner is Kalee from Un Vie Chic. I know you don't have babies yet, Kalee, but when you do, these will be perfect!!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

In just over a week, Nick and I are taking Stephen to Hong Kong for a week. Apart from really looking forward to a week off from the daily grind, I have been really looking forward to putting together my capsule wardrobe for the trip. I find that thinking about packing makes me look at my closet and come up with new ways of putting my clothes together to create different outfits.

There is nothing my husband hates more than lugging a tonne of luggage, so I always have to travel light. However, I still want to be stylish and I don't want to have to wear the same thing everyday. The following 14 items (plus accessories and undergarments) can all fit into a carry-on suitcase, so it ticks the happy husband box. The outfits will take me from ultra casual Disneyland, through to a fancy dinner, and everything in between. The way I accomplished this was by limiting my colour palette. In this case, I focused on mid blue, navy and white as they are nice and summery and mix and match very easily.

Summer Holiday
Summer Holiday by chicmummy featuring Aeropostale Clothing

When trying to create a number of outfits from fewer clothes, make sure to have more tops than bottoms. Even though you are wearing the same bottoms over and over, they are much less noticeable than your tops. If you have access to laundry facilities, you could get away with taking fewer tops. Since I don't want to have to pay for hotel dry cleaning, a few more clothes makes more sense.

Holiday - Plane trip

Holiday - Plane trip by chicmummy featuring Roberto Cavalli Sunglasses

For the plane, I will wear the jersey maxi dress - it is ultra comfortable and its length means that I can curl my legs up on the plane seat without revealing too much. I am always cold on planes so I will wear a cardigan on top and I always take a large shawl to use instead of the scratchy airline blankets. By picking a shawl that co-ordinates with the rest of my wardrobe, it will be a useful addition for cooler evenings, or visiting places of worship. My favourite Storksak diaper bag will hold essentials for the plane including nappies and bottles for Stephen. When we arrive late afternoon, the cardigan and shawl will get stashed in the bag, the sunnies will be put on, and on will go my fabulous sun hat from Boden which comes in its own storage tube. I will be all set for drinks and dinner!

Holiday - sightseeing & shopping
Holiday - sightseeing & shopping by chicmummy featuring Roberto Cavalli Sunglasses

These three outfits are just some of the examples of what I plan to wear while shopping and sightseeing. On their own, they are pretty basic outfits. However, by making sure I packed some great accessories, basic becomes chic.

Holiday - Dressy Dinners
Holiday - Dressy Dinners by chicmummy on

Hong Kong is justifiably famous for its food, so we plan to go to plenty of restaurants, including a couple of fancier establishments. I always feel dressier in dresses, so these two made the cut.

Holiday - Casual Dinners
Holiday - Casual Dinners by chicmummy featuring Old Navy Clothing

However, our budget, our taste and the fact that we will be toting a 2 1/2 year old along means that not every dinner can be fine dining! These three outfits strike just the right tone of effortless chic.

Holiday - Disneyland
Holiday - Disneyland by chicmummy featuring Aeropostale Clothing

Lastly, we will spend two days staying at the Disneyland Hotel, with one day at Disney and the other exploring Lantau Island. For these two days I want to be very casual, but I still want to maintain a hint of chic.

While I have put together these outfits for my holiday, these would be just as appropriate for any SAHM's day-to-day wardrobe. The Disneyland outfits would be great for playing at the park; the two dressy outfits would be perfect for Sunday worship and a black tie function; and the casual dinner outfits could be used for a nice lunch or a PTA meeting.

If you are looking at building a small wardrobe for summer, then follow the same guidelines I did:
  • focus on a limited colour palette
  • add punch with accessories - a mix of cheap and cheerful and some fine jewellery
  • consider what occasions you need your clothes for
  • buy more tops than bottoms

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Power Me Up Smoothie

I have never been a morning person, even before kids, but throw in midnight nappy changes and 4am feeds and that morning sun streaming in through the window is even less welcome! So I really need something to kickstart my day, and my green juice paired with cereal is just not cutting it. This smoothie still has the benefit of my greens, but adds in some other superfoods as well; this smoothie really gets me going for the day, and keeps me full right until lunch.
In a blender or with a stick blender, combine:
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen berries (I usually use a mix of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach
  • 1 small pot of homemade yogurt
  • 2 spoons of almond butter
  • 2 spoons of LSA mix
  • top up with skim milk or kefir
And this is the result: creamy, yummy goodness!

This is also great for the kids; the pink "milkshake" is wonderful way of sneaking in some really good superfoods that they may not like.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Flowers that last

Hopefully your received a lovely bunch of flowers for Mother's Day today, and to celebrate this miracle, you want to make them last as long as possible.

  • As soon as possible, place your flowers in a vase of warm water that is three quarters full, as flowers drink up warm water easier than cold.
  • Use the little packet of flower food that hopefully came with your bouquet. Didn't get one? Add a capful of bleach and a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.
  • Remove any leaves that will sit below the water line to prevent them from rotting. Trim off about 2 cms of the stem, and cut them on an angle so the stems have a larger surface area to suck up nutrients.
  • Keep your flowers away from direct sunlight and heat sources. In summer time, keep them away from any aircon vents.
  • Change the water every 2 to 3 days, making sure to add more flower food.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Stylish Summer Maternity Wardrobe

When you are expecting, there will come a time when you have to invest in maternity wear. In my opinion, you are better off investing earlier in your pregnancy so that you can get the most wear out of your clothes. This will also help you to feel chic and stylish in those horrible first and early second trimesters when you feel more fat and frumpy rather than glowing and pregnant.

Summer Maternity Wardrobe
Summer Maternity Wardrobe by chicmummy featuring Old Navy sleeveless tops

When investing in a pregnancy wardrobe, try and stick with a couple of base colours and a pop colour. This way, everything will mix and match, and you will really be able to extend the amount of outfits you can get out of fewer clothes. All of the clothes that I have featured are from Old Navy. I loved them during my pregnancies as they were cheap and fashionable, but held up really well.

For summer I love white, grey and a turquoisy blue. Lastly, don't forget accessories, as they are a cheap and cheerful way to add another dimension to your wardrobe. The fifteen items above, coupled with the accessories below, can make dozens of different outfits appropriate for many situations.

Great Accessories
Great Accessories by chicmummy featuring Banana Republic shoes

I really love this Emily diaper bag from Storksak (in fact, I own it!). It is pricey at $325, but I use it everyday. If you buy this when you are pregnant, you can get even more use out of it. It doesn't look like a diaper bag (it is made from a lovely soft leather) and the large tote size fits a laptop.

It's also time to start wearing flats if you have been a heel wearer. As you belly grows, your centre of gravity will shift, and you will be much more comfortable in flats. Buy some comfy flats that can take you from walks on the beach, to dinner at a restaurant. Don't ditch those heels, though - sometimes you will just want to put some on, just to feel like your old self.

Maternity Dress 2 ways
Maternity Dress 2 ways by chicmummy featuring Old Navy clothing

This pic shows how accessories can take one great dress from casual to dressy. With the funky belt, flats, glam sunnies and large tote, you are going to be one of the most stylish women running errands. Switch up the accessories to a glam silver necklace, sparkly clutch, a stack of silver bangles and gladiator style heels, and you are suddenly ready for a night out on the town.

Dressed up maternity
Dressed up maternity by chicmummy featuring Old Navy short sleeve tops

If you have a few dressy occasions, don't worry; your wardrobe has all the answers. A patterned tunic and white capris will strike all the right notes for a lunch with the girls, while dark denim jeans (an absolute must have) and a turquoise linen top will have you husband falling in love with you all over again on date night.

sunny days
sunny days by chicmummy featuring Old Navy sandals

For all of those sunny days, mix and match your wardrobe for a multitude of options. If you buy right to start with, you will never have to open up your wardrobe and despair that you have nothing to wear. Again, don't forget to accessorise!! This is what will take your wardrobe from nothing but nice to yummy mummy.

prenatal yoga
prenatal yoga by chicmummy featuring Old Navy maternity

Lastly, don't forget your prenatal workouts. Don't go to your yoga class in your hubbie's old tee - look just as stylish exercising as you do in the rest of your life. These tops paired with comfy but chic yoga pants will look great during downward dog and at the supermarket when you dash in for some milk. And don't forget that all of these tops will match all of your other pants; don't just save them for your power walk - these tops are chic enough for every day.

So make the most of your pregnancy wardrobe - be chic, stylish and fashionable without spending a fortune. I guarantee that if you take the time to build a co-ordinated wardrobe, your dollar will stretch even further than your waistband!

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Homemade Bread and Yoghurt (Yogurt)

As part of my Best Year, I really wanted to make more things at home, as I really think that this is better for the environment and for our health. Inspired by Rhonda Jean's blog, I decided to try out her recipe for homemade yoghurt (yogurt), as well as making homemade bread. The picture above is a piping hot loaf of soy and linseed grainy bread, as well as some of the pots of yoghurt that I made.

Rhonda Jean makes her yoghurt in her oven, but it needs checking on periodically. I remembered that I had a yoghurt maker sitting at my parent's house gathering dust, so I followed her recipe, stuck in the yoghurt maker last night, and this morning woke up to some wonderful pot set yoghurt. A few hours in the fridge and it was ready to eat with a drizzle of honey. It was thick, creamy and deliciously tart. Tomorrow I plan to have it with some of my homemade strawberry compote. If you don't have a yoghurt maker, either follow Rhonda Jean's instructions, or google the web for instructions using an esky, a dehydrator or a thermos. The total cost for a litre (a quart) of yoghurt was just over $2.00, but each batch after will be more like $1.20, as I will use some of my existing yoghurt as a starter instead of having to buy some. Compared with the $6.00 that the live culture pot set yoghurt that i usually buy costs, and how easy it is to make, this is a no-brainer for me to continue doing.

I also had a bread maker gathering dust that has been used, oh, all of 2 times. So bread was the logical next step to make myself. For my first few loaves, I have used a soy and linseed bread mix, which is super easy, and works out at $1.60 per large loaf, versus $4.99 for the soylin bread we regularly get. When I start making it from scratch, it will work out even cheaper. A huge bonus was the delicious smell that fills the house as the bread is rising and baking; is there any thing better than the smell of freshly baking bread?

In both cases, there are significant financial savings to be made, as well as benefits for your health (no additives, no preservatives and you know exactly what is going into it. And for the environment, you are reducing a huge amount of packaging, as well as the energy that goes into the transport of the goods.

If you have a breadmaker lying around (and they seem to be a favourite wedding present - it's how we got ours!) then definitely start making your own bread; yoghurt maker or not, try your hand at yoghurt, too. Once you start, I guarantee, you won't be buying it at the store again.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Monthly Breast Exams

This is your reminder to perform your monthly breast self-exam. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women today. Please take five minutes to do this important check. Early detection could mean the difference bewteen life and death.

There are two important ways to check your breasts. The first is by looking. A mirror should be used to check the breasts for pulls, dents, odd colouring, or lumps. The best positions for inspecting are leaning forward, arms on hips tightly, or standing upright with both arms over your head. When checking the breasts, keep in mind that both breasts should look the same, especially around the nipple.

The second way to check the breasts is by feeling. There are two ways to do this part of the exam and it is best to use a different one each month. One method uses water or oil on the skin to help fingers glide over the skin more easily. The shower can be a good place for this kind of exam. The second way is to use a thin T-shirt or sheet over the breasts. In both of these ways, the little skin lumps and bumps are less noticeable. Feel the breast tissue for any areas that feel different from the rest of the breast. Sometimes a difference will be a ball or lump. Yet other times it will be a thickened band or a deep, hard area that does not move like the rest of the breast.

When feeling the breasts

  • Check the breast in two or three positions, such as lying down, standing up, and even leaning forward.
  • Use the palm surface of the fingers, not the tips, to move the breast.
  • Divide the exam into parts. Examine one part from the outside of the breast into the nipple, and then from the inside to the outer edge. Realize the breast tail goes into the armpit, so the exam needs to include that area.
  • Remember the nipple is important, too. There is less breast tissue right under the nipple, so any lump there is a concern. The value of checking for discharge from the nipple is a debate since regular, hard squeezing of the nipple alone can cause a discharge. The gentle exam done towards your nipple is usually enough to show if there is a discharge. Any blood from the nipple needs to be evaluated by a doctor.

Breast self-exam is not a substitute for mammography or for regular exams by a doctor. Be sure to keep regular appointments as recommended by your doctor.

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