September 2014Life Love and Hiccups: September 2014

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Careful When You are Polishing Your Self Righteous Sword

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School holidays huh?

Love them as much as I loathe them, I do.

I love the slow mornings and the absence of homework. I love the easy nights where I couldn't give two hoots what time those little squids of mine finally pass out. I even love the noise, because I like having my family around me and the noise is a constant reminder of how my dream of a house full of kids is now a reality.

I don't however like the endless bickering over crap. Sorry, but there really is no other way to put it because they seriously fight over the dumbest things - like for example, when someone smiles at the wrong moment, or who stands where in the pool when they are playing pool soccer and who is more bored than the other.

For real?

There is a prize for who dies of boredom first????

Holy shitballs I must have missed that memo. What IS the prize, because heck I can pull the best dying of boredom head where my eyes roll back and you can see the whites and dribble slowly trickles out of the corner of my mouth.

I'm good at it. Like REALLY good at it. I have three excellent pint sized teachers.

I had a day last week where I was so flipping exhausted I could cry. You know those days? You have zero patience, every little hiccup feels like an enormous issue and you want to throw chopsticks at the heads of anyone who dares to cross your path.

I had one of those days.

My eyes were hanging out of my head from working two 16 hour days in a row in an attempt to cram a whole week's worth of work into those two days. I wanted to be able to take a few days off to spend with the kids - those same kids that TOTALLY did me in with their arguing.

They were bored, I know they were, I mean of course they were - Mum was working. But it was all I could do to not put on a hello kitty shirt and throw the most nuclear of tantrums and retreat to the ball room at my local play centre, sucking my thumb and hoping that someone would buy me an ice cream and send me to a nice padded cell for a while.

I don't need any ego stroking to survive those kind of days. I don't need to be artificially pumped full of hot air to make me feel like I am not totally screwing this parenting role up up. I just need to vent, and talk about it a little. You know?

But the thing is, we are not supposed to talk like that are we? We aren't supposed to speak of how our children are sometimes so incredibly turdish that they bring us to tears. Well that's what you would think if you based your evidence on what happens to a mum if she dares to go on social media and vent.

This past week I have seen women attacked online and offline for venting. Words and disapproval viciously slung at them for daring to speak that way about their kids. I followed one thread where someone went so far as to say how selfish this mum was for venting because some people are not fortunate enough to have kids and therefore it is downright selfish and ungrateful to say out loud that your kids are driving you insane.

Really?

What happened to just keeping it real?

My heart aches for woman who desperately long for children but are still waiting. It really aches... BUT does this mean we need to pretend that every single day of motherhood is a walk in the park?

Often the snide comments come from people who are also just as quick to rebuke someone if they feel they are painting an unrealistic image of family life and how it is all sunshine and roses, finger painting and perfectly behaved cherubs.

Keep it real and be judged harshly and called a bad mum... or paint a pretty picture and be called a fake.

How does one even begin to dodge the mines in that game?

I for one feel better when I read that another Mum has had a shit day... oh man that came out so wrong. I don't mean that I get some kind of sick joy out of another sister's suffering. I mean it makes me feel normal, like I am not completely ballsing this motherhood thing up just because we have a shitty moment, day or week.

I am one of those people who not only like, but need a sympathetic nod from a stranger in a shopping centre when my kids are knocking things over in an attempt to inflict the mother of all wedgies on a sibling. I like it when I can say to someone that I need a bucket of vodka to erase the emotional scarring left over from a day full of refereeing and complaint processing and I like that they know I am only kind of half kidding and just quietly hand me some coping cordial without judgement.

God damn it, I really like it when I vent and someone says "me too" because I feel like I have allies in the parenting gig, people who understand how quickly children can turn from sleepy eyed angels to cranky little oompa loompas. Allies who know I am just having a bad day and that I don't really think my kids are proper piles of poo.

I love those kids of mine, Oh man do I love them. I love them so much that there are days my heart actually aches from being so full of love for them and I would not think twice about laying myself down in front of a truck of brussel sprouts for those little people, or crawling through a tunnel full of smelly feet and snakes, because I love them THAT much.

But please don't expect me to pretend that it is all fairy floss and lollipops ALL the time.

I just can't.

And to those perfect woman who have perfect children, please be careful when you are polishing your self righteous sword that you don't accidentally cut down another mum when she vents her frustrations.

Enough with the unnecessary judging already. We are all doing the best we can.

Truthfully, I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect mum or a perfect child, and so God knows I need to read another mum's occasional venting as much as I need to release a little excess steam for myself from time to time.

Especially in the school holidays.

How are you coping with the holidays... truthfully? 
Do you ever feel like you cant vent for fear of being judged or because you feel guilty? 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Going Troppo - Tropical Inspired Homewares To Tempt You

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I have this tropical crush going on at the moment and no, it has nothing to do with pineapple cocktails... 

OK maybe it does a little, but can you blame a gal?

Whilst I am still all about the colour in home wares right now, I can't help but be tempted by a palette that consists of black, copper and a touch of green. 

Think balmy nights, sea breezes, salty hair and cocktails... GAH the cocktails again.

One of the things I love to do whilst I am *ahem* doing my work for Down That Little Lane, is window shop. Yeah alright, so sometimes I go to second base and actually add to my basket and yes YES sometimes I even go all the way and invite some of the gorgeousness to come and live in our home. 

But I am only human after all.

Here's my picks for the latest Down That Little Lane curated newsletter.

FYI - I accept no responsibility for any lack of control you display. I have none myself so no judging on my part.

Cheers!




Weekend Rewind - What Scares You Most?


Friday, 26 September 2014

Weekend Rewind - What Scares You Most?

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I'm curious to know - What scares you in life?

For me, my list spans a lifetime and goes on and on and on and... yeah, you get the drift.

Mostly it is the things I have no control over that scare me the most. You know, ghosts, intruders, disease, accidents, terrorism, war, tsunamis etc that scare me.

Yep Tsunamis.

Do you know there was this time in my life where I was literally petrified of tsunamis and I was convinced it was how I was going to die.

Morbid much?

I Googled the crap out of them - What were the chances of them happening where I live? Where and when did they last occur in my area? I even had an escape route mapped out for how I would get my family to safety and my plans included an elaborate set up of belts holding us all together so that no one got swept away when the water came gushing through.

I freaked my friends out with this too (sorry Nerilee, Sarah and Charmaine), and I obsessed over them to the point I had nightmares - frequently.

Admittedly this fear came about after watching Deep Impact, and then I went into total overdrive after the Boxing day tsunamis. I even considered moving us up into the hills and digging a waterproof bunker...

I DREW UP PLANS PEOPLE!!!!

These days the things that scare me most aren't the tsunamis (I'm over that now), ghosts (seen one and I survived) or even intruders (I will protect myself in any way I can). Nope I am more scared of the things I have zilch control over - like illness or an accident or something awful happening (God Forbid) to my family and of course, all this latest terror threat literally scares the crap out of me.

Don't even get me started on what I do if I ring my husband and he doesn't answer the phone.

Fear takes my mind to the worst possible places.

I'm afraid of crowds - true!

The thought of going to the Easter Show or a concert or large event makes me break out into a sweat... although I do go, for my kid's sake and usually, when I am there I am totally fine.

What's that spot on my son's neck..... I don't know but it MUST be bad.

Dooms day you say? AGAIN??? Oh Shit!

See what I mean?

It is the thinking or over thinking in my case, that scares me the most.

After 40 years I have finally come to the realisation that my mind is my number one enemy and it is what feeds my sometimes completely irrational fear.

So how does one overcome the fear of your own mind?

Don't think?

Hmmm. I have no answer for that one.

Do you?

What about you? What scares you the most in life?

Have an awesome weekend you guys!




Link up your favourite post from the past week and then if you get a chance, pop around and say hello to some of the other lovely linkers. The Weekend Rewind blog hopping party starts every Friday night at 8pm and links will close on Sunday night at midnight. Link up here or over on Bron's blog (Maxabella)Sonia's blog (Sonia Styling) or Kelly's at A Life Less Frantic
It does not matter where you link as your link will show up in all 4 places.










Build For a Cure!

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Cancer is the largest killer of children from disease in Australia and second behind breast cancer in terms of life years lost. 

Even though eight out of ten children survive, 625 kids are still diagnosed with cancer every year in Australia and each week nearly three lose their battle to this disease. 

Everything possible needs to be done to help eradicate this disease.

Children’s Cancer Institute have just kicked off a major campaign called Build for a Cure, which has been designed to spread the word about childhood cancer and raise vital funds to cure it

Build for a Cure will see a home in Sydney’s west built and fully furnished within 21 days. The home will then be sold and all proceeds go towards funding vital research to help fund a cure to childhood cancer. 

Check out a video from day four of the build.



Build for a Cure is supported by Freedom, Electrolux and Panasonic to name a few, with The Block’s Scott Cam heading up the project. Scott is joined by Freedom ambassador, Jason Grant as well as fan favourites and winners of The Block’s 2012 season, Brad and Lara Cranfield.

We can follow the Build for a Cure journey and donate at www.buildforacure.org.au, or perhaps consider buying a $2 token at participating Big W’s throughout September and Woolworths Petrol Stations throughout October. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Organise Your Life - Part 1 Scheduling

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Ahhh yes the age old  juggle of work and family life and the endless quest to try and fit a little time into the day for yourself too.

I'm not entirely convinced that you can do it all completely seamlessly, but dammed if I will give up trying to find a way.

People often ask me "What's that?" referring to the folder I carry everywhere with me.

"That is what saves my sanity" is generally my response.

They are referring to the folder I take everywhere with me, and what is in that folder are the tools I need to keep the fifty odd balls in the air at any given time and dropping only a few here and there.

My system is not foolproof, but what system is? Lord knows I have tried many. But the thing about any organisational system is it can be the difference between ideas, apppointments, and commitments disappearing into your head and being lost for ever, and things actually running smoothly.

When I left the corporate world and went into business for myself 16 months ago (WOW has it really been that long?) I made a promise to the family that I would never again allow work to mean I miss out on doing something with my kids that they want me to do - for example school plays, parent mornings and kid's sport etc.

I want to work, correction, I want to and NEED to keep working, but I don't want it to totally consume my life like it used to.

For a number of years now, both pre-corporate and post-corporate, I have worked from home. The downside of working for yourself or working from home is that it can be hard to switch off. Often it is difficult to ignore the emails and the phone calls when you are supposed to be 'off duty' and so if you are not careful you can end up working around the clock.

I haven't mastered the balancing act yet, but I am getting there.

I thought I would share some of the strategies I use to fit everything into my day and make things run a little smoother for my family and I.

These strategies are not just for working parents. Most of them can be applied to non working mum's and Dad's too because heck, you guys have a million balls in the air too - just different balls.

I am going to break this up into a weekly series because your eyes would roll into the back of your head and you would likely develop a nervous twitch if I lumped it all onto you in one hit. I also want to break it up into bite size pieces to give you the chance to implement these strategies into your own life if you are up for it and to trial them for a week before we move on to the next strategy.

Please remember, I am by no means an expert at life organisation, but I am a mere work from home Mum who is damn well determined to find some balance in life, and I have managed to pick up a few tricks along the way.




1. SCHEDULING

WHAT YOU NEED
  • A notepad
  • This weekly calendar or your own version (just make sure you have it set out hourly)
  • A pencil, eraser and highlighter (you are going got be moving things around)
  • A big cup of tea or coffee and a clear head.


Alright, so I cannot stress the importance of scheduling to ensure you have enough time in the day to do what needs to be done, and hopefully with some time left over to relax too.

The first thing you need to do is sit down and work out exactly what you need to get done in the week.



  • Make a list, however long it needs to be, but be sure to include everything - meal prep, getting kids ready and school drop offs, your work commitments, kids sports & activities, regular appointments or activities, homework and housework.
  • If you need to travel to and from work each day, build that time into your work commitment hours.
  • If you work for yourself or work at home, you need to set a limit on how many hours a day you are prepared to commit to your work and then schedule those hours in.
I actually use a separate work day calender to schedule everything I need to achieve in my working hours. I have a few clients I manage daily and so I have to keep track of what needs to be done daily for each of them. Having a dedicated work schedule allows me to break my work day down into task specific appointments, keep track of my hours and get everything done on time.



One by one start scheduling the things you have written on your list into your calendar.

Effectively you are making appointments with yourself, so be realistic - don't double book yourself or you will have Buckey's chance of sticking to it and you will only set yourself up for failure before you have even begun. That's the quickest way to become overwhelmed and lose heart.
  • Cross things off your list as you schedule them in and move things around if they are flexible so that the timings work for you.
    • Highlight the things that cannot be moved, but as for everything else - Can you move your evening gym to the morning to give you an extra hour at night? 
    • Can you check and respond to emails once or twice a day rather than 3 times throughout the day etc so you don't get distracted and disappear into the black hole otherwise know as the inbox?
If at the end of this exercise you have things left on your list that you couldn't fit into your schedule, it means it's reality time.


YOU officially have too much on your plate! 

You need to think about moving things around, outsourcing if possible or perhaps even letting some things go.
  • If you are working full time but you cannot find the time to clean the house or tackle the ironing yada yada yada, can you fiddle your budget to free up some dollars to pay for some help? 
  • If you find your are losing a lot of time in your day procrastinating on social media, surfing the net, playing on Facebook and reading blogs (ummm I may be guilty here), schedule some time in for those too so you can enjoy doing those things guilt free.
  • If you are finding you have no time left to do homework, it's a constant battle to eat dinner on time, or getting getting the kids to bed at a reasonable time is damn near impossible, then you need to ask yourself seriously - do the kids (or yourself) have too many extra curricular activities going on? Is there more than you can physically handle?
We had to cut back on the kids sport for this exact reason. We were running ourselves stupid every single day trying to get from one activity to another. I was cranky, the kids were exhausted and every night ended in an argument over homework or going to bed on time.

We cut back to one sport per child per term and we moved homework for the little ones to two nights per week on days where we had no sport (leaving time for reading every night). The kids weren't entirely happy about it at first, but they got used to it and they now have extra free time to play with their friends and just be kids. Carl and I scored a little breathing room when it came to paying for all those activities too!


  • Make sure you put room into your schedule for you. Even if it is just 30 minutes a day that belongs to you, you deserve it, you work hard so don't deny yourself that time. If you have a partner, then make sure you include time with them too!
So there you go, this scheduling thing goes part of the way to explaining why I am such an OCD freak. I like routine, I like knowing what is expected of me and I relax more when I have a plan in place to manage it all.

Next week I'm going to reveal my Sanity Folder. The folder that goes everywhere with me and is quite possibly the best thing I have ever created as far as my sanity is concerned.

If you keen to give this scheduling a try, I would love to hear how you are going with it. Feel free to ask me any questions as I would be stoked to help a fellow parent make life a little easier.

Do you schedule your day or do you prefer to wing it?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Taking Stock This September - The Mean Mum Edition

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I love Pip's Taking Stock list over at Meet Me at Mikes, and so I thought it would be the perfect way to waste an hour fitting here in the sunshine on the back deck whilst I wait for my kids to clean their rooms so we can go to the beach already.

Hope you are enjoying your day whatever it may be that you are doing.

Making: A cover for an ottoman I picked up on the roadside. Finders keepers and all that!
Cooking: With my Dad. I love spending time with him in the kitchen creating stuff.
Drinking: I have a love affair going on with the old gin. Sorry Vodka, we are not over though.
Reading: Gone Girl, well I'm about too. I went and brought it today at everyone's recommendation.
Wanting: My children to hurry up and clean their rooms so we can go to the beach.
Looking: At my toes and thinking how much I despise feet.
Playing: Candy crush... yes still. Level 503 baby! I have a problem.
Deciding: Whether to cut my hair short again or not.
Wishing: The world is a much calmer place than it is right now.
Enjoying: Burning sandalwood and listening to sounds of Bali on my iPod whilst I sit on the deck.
Waiting: For the kids to finish cleaning their rooms!
Liking: The explosion of kindness I see around the traps another. Kindness makes my heart sing.
Wondering: If our neighbours hate living next door to such a noisy bunch.
Loving: Not having to rush in the mornings during school holidays.
Pondering: How hard it would be to build a day bed for my back deck.
Considering: Going upstairs with garage bags and cleaning those kids rooms for them REAL good.
Watching: The Bachelor... well I will be tonight!
Hoping: This gorgeous weather is here to stay now.

Marvelling: At how ugly feet really are.
Needing: Someone to come and iron a shitload of clothes for me,,, cause I flipping hate ironing!
Smelling: The sandal wood.
Wearing: Black leggings and a little black floaty dress with new leopard print slip ons.
Following: Maxabella's teach me series. Inspiring stuff!
Noticing: My dog's are in desperate need of a clipping.
Knowing: I am truly doing what I love work wise these days.
Thinking: I need to pull my finger out and do more exercise.
Admiring: Snappystreet's gorgeous photography.
Sorting: Through my paperwork... or at least thinking about it. Whatever!
Buying: This dress from Birds Nest... because... just because!
Getting: Cranky at my kids because they are taking WAYYYYYY too long with those bedrooms.
Disliking: The news and all the awfulness in the world right now.
Opening: Gorgeous cards in the mail from a gorgeous online friend.
Giggling: At my dog who has a squeaky bum. No really it IS the dog.
Feeling: Relaxed
Snacking: On lunch - Smoked Trout on sourdough.
Coveting: This living room. Oh the glorious colour!
Wishing: Time wouldn't go so damn fast.
Helping: Raise money for my kid's footy club so they can play in Fiji next year... and I can go watch
Hearing: My kids fighting instead of cleaning bedrooms.


I'd love it if you pick a couple of things from the list above and give me a little peek into what you are thinking / feeling / hoping for right now.


P.S I am the meanest Mum in the world as the kids did not do their rooms in time and therefore we did not go to the beach today. They should have listened when I said "try me".





Tuesday, 23 September 2014

What Turns You On?

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I mean in the literary sense - what turns you on in the literary sense?

*shakes head * Sheesh!

I have to confess, I'm not the most daring when it comes to my choice of literature.  One look at the pile of titles on my bed side table and you'd be all "No Shit Sherlock",

I do love to be inspired by a compelling mind and spirit book, by the likes of Eckhart Tolle, but when it comes to the fictional stuff, I prefer stuff that is a little warm and lighthearted.

I love characters that I can relate to, and that I can similarities between their personality or life and my own. I truly love it when I feel such a connection with the character that I miss them when the story ends.

Sad aren't I!

I thought long and hard about what I would want to read about when I started writing my own book. (Ahhh yes, I am yet another blogger writing a book). And so the characters in my own book feel like they are people I know in real life - although my dear friends, I assure you they are fictional so don't go thinking I'm writing about you guys.

I haven't been that into imaginary friends since I was about 6 and yet I have become so damn attached to the people in my story that I know I will be sad if and when I eventually finish this book. I have built their world for them, their homes, their families, their fate - how could I not become attached to them?

Do you choose books with characters you relate to? Or do you prefer to be a little more adventurous and through the books you read, exposed to a different life and world to the one you live your every day in?

I go through phases where I am tempted by stories of wealth and fame. I guess you could say I'm a bit fickle really, shallow even when it comes to the books I read. Not much different to the TV shows I love to watch - Location Location, The real Housewives and The Bachelor are my case in point.

I was totally sucked into the whole Fifty Shades phenomena. In fact I just read the series again so that I am ready for when the movie is released.

YES of course I am SO going to go and watch it when it comes out!

Against all better judgement I even read all the Twilight books after I was harassed by friends who insisted I would love them.  I hate to admit it, but they were right. I did enjoy that series, just as I did the Hunger Games and Divergent series.

Maybe there is a little Sci Fi freak in me after all? Who knew!

Typically it is stories about love and quirky families with a humourous story line that I am generally drawn to, and I have a pile of those waiting for me beside the bed that I am hoping to get to sometime in the next 10 years.

Unless of course I get talked into reading something else first...

And so I'm curious as to what you are reading? 
What sort of books are you into?
What book have you read lately that really wound you in?
What turns you on in the literary sense?



Monday, 22 September 2014

Easy Spring Entertaining Ideas

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This post is brought to you by Coles

Happy days people - spring has sprung! Which means it’s time to come out of hibernation, shake off the cobwebs and any traces of cabin fever and do a little outdoor entertaining without the fear of frostbite claiming your toes.

We went nuts last weekend giving the backyard a much needed spruce and shovel, clearing up the mess that winter and all of it’s rain left behind and now, now we are ready to enjoy the outdoors again.

I’m rather fond of the old alfresco dining. Vibey tunes on loop, a spread of tasty food and drink and a gathering of people I love to laugh with. Does it get any better than that? Nah I don’t think so.

I have a mental checklist I tick off when I am preparing to entertain as there are several things I believe are important ingredients to pull of a doozy of a do without spending all day fussing around. I want to be sitting down and enjoying the time with my guests, not faffing around.



EASY SPRING ENTERTAINING CHECKLIST

1.    MOVE IT OUTDOORS
More than likely you have been couped up indoors during winter, so you are probably keen to soak up a little bit of that spring sunshine. If you are anything like me, you may be knee deep in spring cleaning the inside of your house and so you don’t want to unnecessarily mess it all up again.

Head outdoors. Set up a table in the backyard or at the beach or park. Throw a picnic rug or two on the grass, whatever! Start making up for lost time.

2.   KEEP THE FOOD TASTY BUT SIMPLE
You don’t want to be in the kitchen cooking all day, so set a menu and keep it simple.
My basic menu includes something tasty to whet the appetite, a selection of noms to fill my guest’s bellies and maybe something a little sweet to wind down to.

3.   SET THE MOOD WITH MUSIC
In my opinion, background music sets the scene. I am one of those weird iTunes nerds who creates a new playlist for every gathering and I choose my tunes to personally suit my guests. What can I say? It’s my thing!

4.   KEEP IT FUSS FREE
Not only do you want to be free to relax and spend time with your guests, you want your guests to feel relaxed and comfy too. I love setting everything out buffet style so everyone can pick and choose what they would like on their plate and parents can serve their kids what they know they won’t need to beg them to eat. If kids are dining with you, leave your fancy crockery in the cupboard and mix and match your every day faves - you don't want yourself or your guest stressing about breaking anything precious. You can pick up some great crockery and cutlery basics from Coles that won’t break the bank.

5. DECORATE AND SET THE SCENE
You don’t need to go to a whole lot of trouble, just grab a bunch of flowers when you are getting your groceries and put them in whatever vessels you have lying around. Bottles, jars, tin cans, it all works. They are a cheap way of adding some pizazz to your setting and they never fail to brighten up a space. The sight of fresh flowers has the power to make everyone happy, who cares why - they just do.

6. DON’T BLOW THE BUDGET
I went through a phase where I used to spend a fortune on food for my guests, to the point that I would get so stressed about whether I could actually afford to entertain in any given month or not. Your menu doesn’t need to be expensive to keep your guests happy - just thoughtful.

Take advantage of the weekly specials Coles has on offer. Each week you will find 12 fresh specials in store from Friday-Thursday including their monthly heroes line up - a selection of 100% Australian grown, in season products at a bargain price.

7. RELAX AND HAVE FUN
Entertaining is supposed to be fun and nothing shakes those winter blues faster than getting out in the gorgeous spring weather and chilling out. It’s good for your health and good for your soul; what better excuse do you need to invite a bunch of friends around to say “Helllloooo Spring”

Here’s some recipes I put together taking advantage of the September Hero products at Coles; Strawberries, Pineapples, Avocados, Asparagus, Snow Peas and Spring Onions.


GARLIC AIOLI

INGREDIENTS
4 egg yolks
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt

METHOD
Crush and grind your garlic and sea salt to make a paste.
Add the garlic mixture with your egg yolks and lemon to a blender or in a bowl ready for a stab blender.
Slowly add your oil as you blend until your aioli forms a thick creamy texture.


MUSTARD POTATO SALAD
5 large potatoes boiled and diced
1/2 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of vinegar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup of sliced spring onions
A healthy pinch of sea salt
A healthy pinch of cayenne pepper
4 slices of bacon diced

METHOD
In a bowl mix together your vinegar, sugar, eggs, mustard salt and cayenne pepper. Give it a good beating and set your dressing mixture aside.

Over a medium heat fry your bacon until crispy and then pour in your dressing mix and stir constantly until it thickens.

Pour your mix whilst still warm over your potatoes, toss with your spring onions and serve hot or cold



PINEAPPLE & STRAWBERRY BREAD

INGREDIENTS
3 cups of Plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
4 beaten eggs
1 1/4 cups of vegetable oil
2 cups of castor sugar
250g of sliced strawberries
250g of crushed & drained pineapple (use a blender to crush your pineapple and drain the excess juice to drink later)

METHOD
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (170 for fan forced ovens)

Mix together your eggs, sugar, oil, strawberries and pineapple and then set your fruit mixture aside.

In a large bowl sift together your flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and then add your fruit mixture and stir until combined.

Divide your mixture between two greased or lined loaf tins and cook for 50 - 60 minutes, checking with a skewer that they are ready.

Cool on a wire rack and serve warm or cold.



AVOCADO & PISTACHIO DIP

INGREDIENTS
The fruit of 2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
30gms of chopped roasted pistachios (roast raw kernels in a hot oven for 2 -3 minutes)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 pinch of lemon zest
Sea salt and fresh pepper to season

METHOD
In a bowl mash your avocado with a fork adding a pinch of sea salt, lemon juice and olive oil until your get the consistency you prefer.

Mix through your chopped pistachio nuts and drizzle with lime juice and a good grind of pepper.

So tell me - are you ready to say Hello to spring?
Do you like to entertain at your joint?

Got any fail safe tips for fun, budget friendly entertaining you can share with us?