Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thriving on Thursday - Linky Party # 143


Welcome to another (warmer) Thriving on Thursdays. I say it every year but I'm so over winter. I really don't do cold very well. The days are just beautiful though with no humidity, which is something we endure for a very long time in my part of the world in summer so a little dry heat is just marvellous.

Talking about 'biting off more than you can chew'. I can remember up until only a little while ago when I didn't really have anything to do other than be a Mum and be a try hard 'domestic goddess' but since our plumbing works were completed, we've decided to do a bit of landscaping, in time for the wedding. We've had so many setbacks trying to get it done with Damien's Mum not being well, us not being well, my studies and Damien's work. We're slowly making progress but I found two outdoor chairs on the side of the road that I'm going to redo AND make cushions pads for our newly paved area. Talk about making a lot of work for myself. They may get finished. They may not. Stay tuned. Anyway, onto the linky party. So many wonderful posts linked up last week and all worthy of being featured. Here's my top 3 food and non food posts from last week.


Recipe: Parmesan Thyme Zucchini Rounds (From the Family WIth Love)



How to make a DIY Glass Terrarium

summer memory book


Thank you so much to everyone who linked up last week. So many wonderful ideas. If you were featured, please feel free to grab a 'featured' button from above. Don't forget, if you were featured, your post will be shared on Facebook, my Thriving on Thursdays Linky Party Pinterest Board plus other relevant Pinterest boards of mine and Twitter. Can't wait to see what you've all been working on this week. Now, let's party!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pea & Ham Soup

I don't know why I haven't shared my Pea & Ham soup recipe before. I have it every winter and probably have had it every winter since I was born. It was a staple in our house growing up, in the days when ham hocks and bacon bones were usually thrown away and considered to be scraps. Now the supermarket is really cashing in on people wanting to make this very Australian winter staple.

This one is perfect for the slow cooker but this particular day, a very cold one, I wasn't organised enough to get it on in the morning so cooked it in my stock pot. Not even it was big enough for my ham bone I saved from Christmas. That's about the only way I can afford to make Pea & Ham soup these days. The price of ham hocks in winter is ridiculous. As with all my soups and stews, I start off with a traditional mirepoix (diced onions, carrots and celery) fried off until soft in a little olive oil.

Then I add a 500 gram packet of dried split green peas which have been rinsed off under running cold water. Add them to the pot with about 2 litres of vegetable or chicken stock.

As you can see, my ham bone was sticking out of the liquid but there was enough steam to loosen the meat on the bone and add plenty of flavour to the soup. As this soup cooks, the peas will produce 'scum' which needs to be scooped off the top of the soup as it cooks.

As the meat falls off the bone, I keep some to leave chunky in the soup and I blitz the rest of the meat along with the vegetables until it becomes a thick puree.

What I love about this soup is that it's very hearty. It's a meal in itself, there's always heaps of leftovers and it sticks to the ribs. My son loved the 'bacon soup' I made. I dare not say it was 'pea' and ham soup. You know what kids are like eating their peas.

Pea & Ham Soup

  • 1 large ham bone or 2 ham hocks
  • 500 gram green split peas
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • olive oil for frying
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 litres vegetable or chicken stock

  1. Fry off onion, carrots and celery in a little olive oil until soft.
  2. Rinse dried split green peas under running cold water and add to the pot.
  3. Add stock, bay leaves and ham bone or hocks.
  4. Cook on the stove top until dried peas are soft (approximately 45 mins to 1 hour - alternatively can be cooked in a slow cooker).
  5. During the cooking process, remove any scum that forms on the top of the soup.
  6. Once peas are soft, remove ham bone and take off any meat and return it back to the soup. (Larger pieces of meat can be left aside to stir through the soup after blitzing to give it a more chunky texture.)
  7. Blitz soup until smooth.
  8. Serve with crusty bread.
Note:  Add pepper if desired but taste soup before adding any salt. The ham bone or hocks are very salty and the soup may not require any added salt.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How to look your best on your wedding day

Okay, I'll be upfront and honest. You won't find any actual make up tips here. Nor will you find the latest wedding hairstyles. I know nothing about either. In my 20's, I was probably a little bit more conscious of the latest make up to wear but as a 51 year old woman, I'm pretty  happy with the skin that I'm in and don't wear very much make up at all. What lead me to writing this post actually was a comment an acquaintance made to me just recently. She was selling a new range of skin care treatments, make up, anti-aging products etc etc and asked if I'd be interested in viewing the range. I hadn't heard from this woman for a really long time and mentioned to her that I was getting married in a couple months time. She said "this new range of products would be just perfect for you as..... want to be looking your best for your wedding."

I didn't give what she said much thought until a little while later and thought "what does that actually mean?". I thought I already looked my best. I thought with a little makeup on the wedding day and a bit of a 'do', I'd be looking especially at my best. She hadn't even seen me for 12 months so how would she even know I wasn't already looking my best? I started to worry a little bit. (Just a little.)

It then led me to ask my fiance "when do you think I'm looking my best?". God love him. This is what he replied.

When I first wake up in the morning. Having fine, frizzy hair, it's usually everywhere. 
My fiance's nickname for me is "Fuzzy Bear".

Attending my first heavy metal outdoor concert with my partner.
He loves this photo so much he has it as his wallpaper on his mobile phone.

To my fiance, I look my best when I try new things and don't give up.
Here's me skateboarding for the first time in my life aged 50.

When we spend time together.
Here we are climbing the Story Bridge in my capital city, Brisbane

When we're at the beach together enjoying the sun and the surf.
Swimming costumes aren't very forgiving but he loves me in them just the way I am.

And when I had my hair and makeup trial for my wedding.
We had our engagement photos taken that evening and he said I looked like a 'model'.

In my partner's eyes, I look my best to him every day. I belong to a couple online bridal groups and I see so many girls going for spray tans, beauty treatments, going on diets, even getting botox, all for the BIG day. Please don't. Be happy with the 'skin you're in'. Be happy in the fact that your husband to be loves you the way you are. They've seen you at your best already and probably seen you at your very worst. Wearing a nice wedding dress and wearing a bit of makeup and your hair nicely done on the day is all you need. Don't try and recreate that look in all the bridal magazines. We went to a local bridal expo just recently and at the fashion parade, all the girls wearing bridal gowns were high school girls. We all looked like that at 16 years of age.

Let me assure you, you will look your best on your wedding day, in your partner's eyes, without all the treatments.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Apple & Walnut Turnovers

As a rule, we never eat dessert, that is unless it's winter time and it's a good excuse as any to try some warming desserts. Having puff pastry on hand in the freezer is dangerous (for me anyway) because you've got some great options to prepare a quick dessert like these Apple & Walnut Turnovers.

Granny Smith apples are in full season at the moment and are great for cooking. It was just a matter of melting some brown sugar with a little water, softening the apples and adding a little cinnamon while they cooked.

You could cut the square piece of puff into four triangles but there was just the two of us for dessert this particular night and well, I've got nothing to say except I really wanted to get a good fill of apples. Once the apples have cooled slightly, spoon into the centre of the triangle piece of puff.

Top with the other triangle of puff and press the edges with a fork to seal. Brush the top with egg wash and pierce a hole in the top to allow steam to escape.

I sprinkled a little sugar on top before popping in the oven and the result was very warming and full of flavour with a light puffy pastry and a soft apple filling with the crunch of the walnuts.

I hope you didn't throw the liquid away that you cooked the apples in? That is a delicious caramel that can be poured over the vanilla ice cream. This is the exact reason why we don't have dessert every night. Too much of a good thing? You could try this with pears, plums, peaches, nectarines or other firm fruit.

Apple & Walnut Turnovers

  • 2 apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped roughly
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • sugar for sprinkling

  1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C.
  2. Add diced apples, walnuts, brown sugar, water and cinnamon to a pan and allow sugar to melt and apples to soften. (Save liquid from softened apples.)
  3. Cut puff pastry into two triangles. (For a smaller pastry, cut into four triangles. By rights, I should've done this!)
  4. Spoon cooled apple mixture into centre of pastry triangle.
  5. Put other half of triangle pastry on top and brush edges with a little egg wash.
  6. Press with a fork to seal and cut a small hole in the top of pastry to allow steam to escape.
  7. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with a little white sugar.
  8. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Serve with vanilla ice cream and/or custard and spoon reserved liquid from the apples over the ice cream.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Business Mamas Diploma of Business - Staying inspired

Well, I'm two months into my Business Mamas Diploma of Business and there's nothing like a couple of hurdles to jump in your every day life to throw you off track. I needed all the help I could to remind me to keep motivated and stay inspired. Lucky the content of the Business Mamas course is motivating and inspirational. It makes you want to stay on track.

There's also nothing like a winter cold to go through the house to set you back a couple of weeks. First it was my son, then me and as I was nearing the end of it, my daughter came down with the same annoying coughing bug. It was a good three weeks I lost and got totally off track with my studies. Needless to say, during that three week period, all of my daily chores all took a back seat so I've been in catch up mode since. It's all about staying motivated to complete the course and good organisational skills to keep you on track.

I like to think of myself as a pretty organised person but with a couple of set backs I soon found I had a lot on my plate. I find my daily to do list is a great tool to remind me of what's on for the day. Taking out 10 minutes just before I go to bed and checking my calendar, I can see what I've got on for the next day and I prioritise my workload for the day. I've learnt to write everything down. It's so easy to forget something that you had planned. Even if it's a phone call you need to make, an appointment, helping out at the kid's school or scheduling in your laundry, baking, grocery shopping, coffee with the girls, getting dinner on, it's all important to help you schedule study time. Don't forget to schedule in breaks during your studies, even if it's 15 minutes. You can achieve so much in that little amount of time. Tidy a drawer, wipe down the fridge while you're boiling the kettle for a cuppa, check your Inbox, put a load of washing on, take a walk around the block. If it's written down and you can check it off, you really feel like you're accomplishing all that's on your To Do list.

I started off the first unit of study, Go Mama with a bang and the first study module, Ms Happy was the perfect opportunity to look deep inside myself. Having gone through a lot in the last 3 years with the loss of my mother and my marriage break up, I'd forgotten just what makes me happy, like really happy. This was a fantastic exercise because if you find out what truly makes you happy you can apply that to the type of business you'd like to create. They say "if you do a job you really love, you'll never work a day in your life" or something like that.

The next unit of study, Inspire Me was like a smack in the face with a wet fish for me. It truly was inspirational to watch the webinars from truly inspirational women who started out with a dream and made it happen. It made me want to start my business, like yesterday, and put some action into place. Such perfect timing when I found it hard to get back into it after dealing with illness and a back load of housework. 

The next step is working on Have Your Cake And Eat It Too, then the assignment for this study module, a complete review of the subjects that I have already covered. I can't wait to get my 'teeth into it' and recap on what has been a great start to my Diploma of Business journey. Stay tuned for my next update next month.

You can check out my previous post, Getting Started here.

Take the first step to live happy, work happy, be happy! Contact Business Mamas today and the Business Mamas team will be in touch with more information.
Business Mamas is an accredited online business school designed to help you launch your new business. Whether it be launching a micro business for extra cash or starting the next big business sensation, it’s all about you and your goals!
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Disclaimer:  In return for monthly blog posts for a 12 month period, Business Mamas have waived all course fees associated with the Diploma of Business. All thoughts, photos and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thriving on Thursdays - Linky Party # 142


Welcome to Thursday and a slightly warmer Thriving on Thursday. It's been so cold, anyone would think it's winter time! Although the sun is shining today and we're enjoying our reasonably mild winter days that we're used to here in Queensland, I can't wait for spring and summer. (Sorry my friends in the northern hemisphere.) It's been a busy week already for me this week. Appointments and errands to run, the usual school commitments and tomorrow I have my first fitting for my wedding dress, which is pretty exciting. Can't wait to see how it looks. Anyway, onto the party. Here are my top 3 food and non food posts from last week's party.





Milk Jug Toy Scoop by Crafty Journal


Thank you so much to everyone for linking up. It's always a hard choice to pick just 3 posts from each category. Every single post is worthy of being featured. If you were featured, feel free to grab a featured button above. I can't wait to see what you've all been working on this week.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

50 Quick Sew Cloth Napkins

Oh the dilemmas one faces when planning their own DIY wedding. If money wasn't an option, there wouldn't be a dilemma. Trouble is, we've decided on a budget and we're sticking to it! I was faced with a dilemma recently when it came to deciding on the napkins/serviettes for the wedding. You see, we're having both the ceremony and the reception at our home and I'm doing the appetisers and a caterer will supply the main meal. The caterer did supply paper napkins, which is a perfectly good option but I just kept thinking how much I would prefer cloth napkins. Searching the interwebs, the cheapest I could find were about $2 each, plus postage and when you add that up I'd be looking at $100 plus just so people could wipe their faces which to me, was ridiculous. I looked at various good quality paper napkins as well and I so much preferred cloth napkins. First world problems, I know!

I did, however, pick up a brand new double bed size sheet set from the thrift store for $10 and when I saw it I knew it would be perfect for decorating our wedding reception space. I've used it already for so many things and I have so much leftover. It's a light cotton material and just perfect for napkins. I didn't want to have to fold over the edges, press them and then sew. Too much effort for me. So I decided on this quick sew method.

I cut out a template from a cardboard box in the size I wanted. This is probably about 25cm (10 inches) square.

Using my cutting matter and rotary cutter, I doubled the material (if you're keen you could fold it over again to reduce time but I think my blade is getting blunt) and I set about cutting 50 napkins.

It didn't take that long.

After they were all cut, I gave them a wash in the washing machine and dried them so the edges would all be frayed.

I then sewed a line in a contrasting coloured thread around the edge of the napkin (about 1cm in) and neatened the edges to achieve that frayed look.

This did become quite tedious after a while and I'm still finding threads all over the house, the kids and the dogs. I'd got through about half and I decided to finish the other half off with the pinking shears. It doesn't matter to me at the end of the day. They'll be folded and only used to wipe your face.

If you count interruptions for getting sick myself, having sick children, a 2 week school holiday break and the usual interruptions that come with being a Mum, these didn't take too long after all. I've given them all a press, ready for the wedding.

We currently use paper napkins at home with our usual meals but these will all come in handy after the wedding and help reduce the number of paper napkins we buy. If you count all the other crafting I've done using this sheet set and still have heaps of fabric left, I think these 50 napkins set me back a couple of dollars. A good saving after all.

You can check out my other budget wedding ideas I've done here.

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