Friday, October 16, 2009

My new favourite kitchen gadget!

I wrote a while ago about my "must-have" kitchen gadgets, but I have to add another one! I recently bought a Sodastream (yep, the Sodastream many of you may remember from the 80's) and I am in love!

As part of my making this my best year, a few months ago I decided to ditch the diet soda completely. I have been reading enough studies to convince me that drinking diet soda does not help with weight loss, and in fact, may even hinder weight loss, since your body is expecting a sugar hit, and reacts accordingly. However, while flavoured waters were helping somewhat I still needed my fizz fix, and my sparkling water addiction was becoming expensive!

And that's when I remembered the old Sodastream we used to have as kids...

Tell me you remember these, too, or am I really starting to show my age? Anyway, these still exist, the concept is the same, but they look much better. The only thing I miss is the old fashioned glass bottles - I really liked those.

The unit, with one bottle of gas, cost me AUD$70, and the refill gas bottles are $13. Each gas bottle makes about 40 litres of bubbly water. You can, or course, still buy all of the flavoured Sodastream syrups, but I love the water plain. For the kids, I sometimes add a little bit of regular or homemade cordial for a healthier soda.

This is so much healthier than drinking regular soda, and it is also so much better for the environment. The bottles are reusable, the gas bottles are refilled, rather than tossed, and there are no transportation costs for bottles and cans to be transported to your local store. This is definitely my new favourite kitchen gadget!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Buy Handmade This Christmas

I am passionate about supporting local businesses, and in particular, people running their own crafty businesses from home. So I wanted to encourage all of you to buy handmade products as gifts this Christmas. There are so many ways you can buy handmade presents, whether it is from local craft markets,, or which is an Australian version of Etsy. How much nicer would it be to open up your wrapping paper this Christmas to find something lovingly handmade, rather than mass produced in a Chinese factory? Of course, it would be even better to make your own presents, but if you are like me and simply don't have the time, than take the next best option and buy hand made this Christmas!

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Monday, October 12, 2009

My Idea of Heaven: homemade jam, bread and yoghurt

This is my idea of a heavenly breakfast: homemade toasted sourdough bread, homemade yoghurt cheese (quark) and homemade strawberry jam. This strawberry jam is from a Jamie Oliver cookbook and is the yummiest, most strawberriest jam that you will ever taste.

Quick Strawberry Jam from jamie at home

1kg (2lbs) strawberries, washed and hulled
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put everything in a pot and crush roughly with potato masher. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.

I put this into freezer proof tupperware containers and store in the freezer. In the fridge, it will last about a week or so.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Mt Claremont Farmers Market

Farmers Markets have been popular in the US and on the east coast of Australia for quite a while now, but they are only just starting to take off here in the West of Oz. Lately, I have been making the early (early for me, anyway) trip to the Mt Claremont Farmers Market located at Mt Claremont Primary School. Even though it has been running since 2007, I have only recently started going. Since we own a Growers' Market, and I can get super fresh fruit and veg from local growers pretty much whenever I want, I never really saw the point in going. However, as well as amazingly fresh fruit and veg, they have so much more there!

On my weekly shopping list:

  • Winterville Angus beef - straight from the farmer, and grown without hormones. This beef is so yummy, and since we eat beef about twice a week, I think switching to hormone free beef is important. And the best part - it is the same price as the stock standard beef I used to buy from the supermarket, and about half the price of the organic beef.
  • Organic multigrain rye bread - my husband has never been a fan of rye bread, but even he loves this one. It is rich and dense and so, so yummy!
  • Over The Moon dairy's organic jersey milk, butter and fetta - these products are more expensive than their supermarket counterparts but on par with the matching organics. These taste just the way milk and butter used to taste. The milk is almost yellow, and the butter IS a rich sunflower yellow, not the pale and insipid butter I have been using in the past. Their marinated fetta is sinfully delicious and I have had to stop buying it - I just eat too much! They also do two wonderful yoghurts (plain and honey), and some camembert and brie.
As well as great fresh and seasonal fruit and veg, there are jam and chutneys, pickles, nitrate-free bacon and ham, cookies, cakes, curry pastes and the list goes on. The best part is that as well as the regulars, there are lots of other stalls and you never know what you are going to find.

A great additional benefit of the market is that all proceeds from the stall hire fees and the gold coin donation for parking goes towards the school's Parents and Friends Association and so far, thousands of dollars have been raised for various projects around the school.

So for those of you in Perth, make sure you go and check it out:

Saturday mornings 8am -12pm (but for the best selection, get there before 10.30)

Mt Claremont Primary School
103 Alfred Rd, Mt Claremont

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Productive Parenting: Great site for preschoolers

I recently came across a wonderful parenting site called Productive Parenting. This site is aimed at parents of newborns to five-year-olds, and their goal is "to provide [parents] with fun and engaging ways to interact with your child on a daily basis." Membership is free, and once you sign up, you can customize the site for the children you have. I have signed up for the daily emails, and get one email for Irini and one for Stephen with different activities to try. Each activity is listed with the target age, materials needed, and what skills are being learned. All of the activities I have been sent so far are quick and easy, with materials easily found around the house. I really like being able to add in some new and different things to our day.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Giveaway: SpellQuizzer program

Dan, the creator of SpellQuizzer, has given a 12 month license for the program to me to giveaway. Unfortunately, both my kids are too young to be able to give it a proper review, but after looking at the sight, I really like what I see, and think that it would be perfect when we do move onto spelling.

The idea behind SpellQuizzer is very simple; each week you enter your child's list of spelling words and make audio recordings of the words on the list. The software then quizzes the child by playing back the words (in your voice) and checking the spelling as your child types. It corrects any incorrectly spelt words, and then re-quizzes those ones. The idea is to set up the list once a week, and then have your child spend 5-10 minutes each day going over their list.

The software looks very easy to use - there are premade spelling lists if you don't want to prepare your own, and entering the lists is so easy that once your child is old enough, they would be able to enter their own lists, saving you even more time. There is even a failsafe feature that will alert you if they program thinks you are entering a word incorrectly. Because the concept is so simple, I think it would complement any curriculum that you are working with whether you are homeschooling or not.

Another great benefit is that it is a downloadable program; you don't need to be connected to the Internet to use it. This would be great for those older children who are liable to be distracted by the Internet.

To enter, leave a comment telling me what word you always have trouble spelling.

For extra entries, follow my blog, subscribe to my blog, or blog about this giveaway on your blog; leave a comment for each entry! Entry closes Wednesday 15 October.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Product Review: Benefit Makeup

Recently I received an unexpected package in the mail. It turns out that I had entered a competition a while ago, and while I didn't win the main prize, I won a selection of Benefit makeup goodies. In my package was Realness of Concealness, RosieTint and BadGirl mascara. I have never used Benefit products before, but I think I have found a new favourite! All three of the products have become the new basis of my 5 minute face. All I need to add is a swipe of gloss and a puff of powder and I am done.

Realness of Concealness is a little compact that Benefit calls its "mini fake-it kit" and I couldn't agree more. The kit contains

  • Ooh la lift - used under the eyes, it helps to brighten and debag
  • Lip Plump - self explanatory!
  • High Beam - skin illuminator
  • Lemon Aid - colour corrector and primer for your eyelids
  • Boi-ing - concealer
Using just three of the products took my face from obviously tired, to looking totally refreshed, in just 30 seconds. A quick swipe of Ooh la lift under the eyes, with Boi-ing concealer patted over the top completely banished my undereye circles. Lemonaid, smoothed on the eyelids instead of eyeshadow, took away any redness and blotchiness. Every mother suffering from sleep deprivation needs to add this kit into their makeup bag.

PosieTint is a lip and cheek stain in a lovely shade of poppy pink. 3 little swipes on each cheek rubbed in quickly gave my cheeks that rosy glow that looks like it comes from within. Paint on your lips for a perky pink stain that lasts all day without drying out. I like to top it with some clear gloss or lipbalm for some shine.

Badgirl Lash mascara is good, but to be perfectly honest, not much different to most other mascaras out there. It is really black, and thickens and lengthens. But so do plenty of others for cheaper. However, I got it for free, and I do like it, so this will be my mascara for the next 3 months.

Putting all of this on truly takes less that 5 minutes and requires no tools except fingers; I've packed these into a little makeup pouch so I can do my face on the go on those rushed mornings. I may not have one first prize in the competition, but I still struck gold!

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benefit cosmetics

Friday, October 2, 2009

31 Days to Healthier Kids

As parents, our children's health is one of our main concerns. Sparkpeople (a really wonderful site for every member of the family) has come up with a calender for October called 31 days to Healthier Kids. The calender contains 31 quick and easy tips that any family can incorporate. Go here to download the full calender.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Congratulations to Becca (comment #6) who was the winner of the Miche Bag competition. Unfortunately, Becca hasn't given me her email address, so Becca, please email me your postal address within 5 days so I can send out your prize. If I haven't heard from you by then, I will redraw and select a new winner.

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