September 2015Life Love and Hiccups: September 2015

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Quesa What? An Easy WeekNight Dinner

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Brought to you by Coles

I don’t know about you but with the days getting longer at this time of the year, there are so many ways I would much rather be taking advantage of those extra hours of daylight than hanging than inside cooking dinner.

Liiiiike ANYTHING other than cooking dinner and please don't underestimate the anything part of that statement.

Regardless, those of ours kids just keep on insisting we feed them dinner. every. single. day.

What to do what to do huh?

Ahhh how about making dinner quick, fun and easy enough to make them want to make it for themselves and for us grown ups too?

Woohoo, cue the victory dance because that is one heck of an awesome plan , even if I do say so myself.

My kids love pizza, and so I guess these Quesadillas are a bit of a cheats version of pizza, and better yet - you cook them in the sandwich toaster rather than the oven.

There is honestly no real method behind the madness when it comes to these Quesadillas, because as is often the way with pizzas -the more crazy the mix of toppings, the better it often tastes.

I find if we offer the kids bowls of brightly coloured fresh vegetables and toppings, they are happy to go to town with filling their wraps with choices that we parents can feel pretty smug about.

For our guys, we filled bowls with tomatoes, capsicum, redonions, avocado, olives, mushrooms, mixed lettuce leaves, grated cheese and BBQchicken, and then it was as simple as the kids dolloping some salt reduced tomato paste onto their wraps and spreading it around with the back of a spoon, adding their toppings, fold the wraps in half and then cook them in the sandwich press until they are perfectly toasted.


If you have little kids then you are best spending ten minutes chopping up all the ingredients first and then let them put together their toppings before you take over and cook them in the sandwich press.


If you have older children then simply point them to the fridge and then get on with doing something else whilst the kids prepare dinner because seriously, you have a night off from cooking and it was as easy as that.

The kids will have a ball trying to outdo each other with the topping combos and it is quite possibly one the easiest and cheapest weeknight meals ever.

Winning!

With the weather warming up it is the perfect time to focus on eating healthily and if you load up on the fresh in-season fruit and vegetables in your local Coles or Coles online, you can get the kids involved with healthy choices and the bonus of them helping you to prepare dinner.

You will find a recipe for Quesadillas along with loads of other easy weeknight meals in this month’s Coles magazine which you can pick up in store or download here. And don’t forget that coles.com.au and taste.com.au are always an awesome source of ideas to help you with your meal planning. 

Are you game to let your kids loose in the kitchen?
Do you have any other recipes your kids enjoy making that I could con my kids might be interested in trying?


Friday, 25 September 2015

When the Truth Hurts... Like A LOT!

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Criticism is a hard thing to swallow isn't it?!

I like to think I am quite open and receptive to constructive criticism and that I can take it on board like a proper grown up and use it to work towards being a better person or a better something or other...

But the reality is criticism can sting, and regardless of whether the criticism is personal, accurate or even within in your control - the truth can hurt... like a lot!

The ego is a very sensitive thing and if I'm honest, I'm not really sure what hurts more - the fact that criticism leads to such strong disappointment within myself, or the bonus disappointment I take on just knowing that I or something I am involved in, has not met someone elses expectations.

It kind of sucks either which way really and you would have to have a ridiculously thick skin to not take it to heart... even just a little.

One thing I do know from a recent experience is that criticism can be a pretty tough pill to swallow and one needs to be very careful and considerate when providing feedback to someone, especially as a parent dealing with children, because I tell you - the actual delivery of that criticism - man that delivery can be make or break material.

How do you cope with receiving criticism?
Are you thick enough skinned to simply take it on board and learn from it or does is sting like buggery and leave you feeling very bruised and battered for the experience?

Anyway it's just a quick one from me tonight as the hubby is away camping with one of our boys and so it is just me and the two little ones for a few nights... and quite frankly after a week that has left me totally knackered - a movie and some snuggles on the couch is about all I can cope with for now.

Have a fabulous weekend you guys.



Ok, linky time! To play along simply 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 Loves) or Zoe's blog (A Quirky Bird)It does not matter where you link as your link will show up in all 4 places.



Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Lowdown on The New Dyson

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Brought to you by Nuffnang and Dyson

When I tell people that I usually vacuum the floors in our home at least once a day, I am often met with a complete look of bewilderment. Experience tells me that they are generally thinking;

a This woman is a complete and utter nut job
b This woman clearly suffers from some form of cleaning OCD
c This woman owns a houseful of kids and dogs
d All of the above

If I’m totally honest, the correct answer would in fact be D - I am a somewhat OCD nut job who owns a house full of kids and dogs.

That being said, the main reason I am so obsessive about the floors in our house is because we have a combination of tile and carpet in our home, both of which are light in colour. Since the three boys and their friends, and the two dogs insist on constantly trekking dirt in and out and shedding hair all over the place, if we didn't vacuum daily, the floors would look horrendously filthy.

Meet Max and Milly - Milly is the sloth on the couch otherwise known as the chicken sausage, after I went to buy chicken sausages for dinner and came home with a puppy. Long story short - the pet store was somewhere between the carpark and the sausage shop and HELLO cute puppy meet a sucker of a mum and we had a new member of the family.

The other dog (the one in desperate need of a trip to the salon) is Max and believe me when I tell you that their cute appearances are merely a cover for their more devious personalities. These two KNOW when I have just finished cleaning the floors and will get straight to work on bringing the backyard inside and spreading it all over the carpet.


They can turn the beige carpet brown faster than my kids can roll a family sized pack of assorted creams.. and trust me, I’m talking fast.

Admittedly there is a part of me who has a compulsive need to clean whenever I am stressed or mad, bored or sad and … yeah OK, clearly I have issues Houston.

As you can imagine, I didn’t need much in the way of any arm twisting when I was asked to try out and review the new Dyson DC50Upright vacuum cleaner.

I’m already a dedicated Dyson consumer and we have one of their barrel vacuums that you pull along behind you as you go.

Now don’t get me wrong, the barrel model is still an awesome vacuum that does the job really well, it’s just that I spend a fortune on spack filler to repair corners of our walls that look like this…



You see, I am very proud of the fact that I have successfully conned negotiated with the kids to vacuum at least a couple of times a week as part of their pocket money earning chores, but the enthusiastic money hungry little buggers run through the house vacuuming as quickly as they can and drag the poor vacuum behind them bashing into the walls as they go.

I am pleased to report that this does NOT happen with this new Dyson vacuum cleaner.


This lightweight and compact machine can be easily steered with a mere turn of the wrist making it so easy for any sized member of the family to use without smashing the walls and although this streamlined baby may be the smallest upright vacuum cleaner (which by the way is absolutely perfect storage wise), it’s two tiers of cyclones means it has all the power of a full size machine.

 This is what this feisty little sucker picked up from my floor after one vacuuming session (despite the fact I vacuumed the day before).

My cleaning OCD has officially gone into overdrive because ewwwww THAT was in my floors!!!

If you have tiles or hard wood floors, you will be very pleased to know that not only does the Dyson DC50 brush bar automatically transition between carpets and hard floors with uninterrupted suction, it also has a row of anti static carbon fibre filaments as well as the nylon bristles.

What all that fancy shmancy technical talk means is that most vacuums have a nylon brush bar that loosens the dirt from the carpet but they are less effective on hard floors where static holds the fine dust to the floors.

The fancy filaments in the Dyson brush prevents the static charge from building up, and that dirt and microscopic dust that contains all the allergens and bacteria are easily sucked up into the vacuum.

It cleans up well.

Like, keeps the OCD mum of kids and dogs really happy kind of well.

Better yet this machine has a special short arse gadget (totally not the technical term) that attaches to the movable hose that enables vertically challenged people like me or the mighty midgets to reach and vacuum the tops of shelves and cupboards.

For the win people, for the win!

Yep I’m sold and I would happily recommend the Dyson DC50 for use in a home full of big, little and hairy people.

You read all about it or order the Dyson DC50 Allergy online here and as an added bonus - it comes with free delivery and a free 2 year guarantee.

Now tell me - how often do you Vacuum at your house?
Do you think I am a total nut job or are you as equally OCD when it comes to your floors?

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

When Two Great Loves Collide

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Hello and Happy Hump Day to you guys.

Wow, so we ran our first school holiday kid's workshop today at the warehouse and I'm officially gonna go and call it a success.

It was a dream catcher workshop with our mate Jayde from Little Paper Lane and the fact that the kids didn't want to leave when their parent's turned up to pick them up, was a pretty good indication that the gorgeous little dudes and dudettes had fun.

I too had a whole load of fun because HELLOOO pineapple donuts.

It is an awesome day when two of my great loves collide.

We saw these donuts on Pinterest and kind of had an inkling that the kids would love them when they came to the workshop... and we weren't wrong.

They are just simple cinnamon donuts that we topped with pineapple heads... pineapple heads that I sat on the couch last night watching X Factor and painstakingly cutting out.

I'm not even kidding with the pain bit... I mean all those corners and stuff... PAINful!

Once I had cut the cardboard shapes out I decided to laminate them so that they could be reused because there was NO way I was going to go and cut all of these buggers out again for the next workshop. But once they were laminated I had to cut them all out again anyways... corners and all.

So yep, a somewhat painful process... but the pins and needles in my hands will disappear eventually ( I hope) and watching the kids enjoy them today, ahh it was SO worth it!

Anyway, I am off to collapse on the couch and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

How are you doing?

Are you surviving the holidays so far or are you ready to run away to somewhere safe and hide?


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Traditional Sunday Family Dinner

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 I can’t promise you that there will be good manners, nor can I promise you that there will be no discussions about bums and boogers, but I can promise that Sunday family meals will provide entertainment for future girlfriends and memories to last a lifetime.

Brought to you by Coles

Sunday dinner was always a big deal in our house when I was growing up. It was the one night of the week that we were allowed to have Coca Cola and the house smelt of rosemary from the roast that was often sizzling away in the oven or the crackling of the pork in the webber.

We always sat at the big table in my parent’s dining room where we each had our own unofficially assigned seats, and the memories of those meals go beyond a childhood and well into our teenage years.

Our friends were always welcome to join us at the table and OMG the nerves I felt whenever I brought home a new or potential boyfriend.

I can still remember the Sunday night when my hubby Carl met my parents for the very first time and joined us for dinner.

I wanted them so badly to like him because I REALLY liked him, and given my parents and my family were so important to me and I couldn’t bear thinking about what would have happened if they didn’t get on??

Quite possibly it could have been a deal breaker.

Fortunately, Carl fitted in like it was always meant to be.

He easily navigated the awkward inquisitions, the grilling from my brother and it wasn’t long before he became and remained a regular at the table.

Even after I moved out of home, Carl and I would go back to my family home for Sunday night dinner. The wine would flow, the conversations were loud and my Grandmother would sit at her place at the table and blush from the tips or her ears right down to her toes with some of the things we would talk about.

After my brother moved overseas and Carl and I married and created our own little family, the logistics of kid’s bedtimes and activities etc made it more difficult to continue with the Sunday night tradition at my parent’s place.

We began having our own Sunday night family dinners at our own family home… but it wasn’t until our children got that little bit older and our first born hit the teenage years, that we realised that just how important those Sunday family dinners would have been for my parents, and just how important they had become to us too.





Back when my children lived only in my imagination, I always dreamt of a big table packed full of kids and noise and food and endless happy chatter.

I imagined my children growing up and bringing home friends and partners to join us at the table for Sunday night dinner, and even back then, before my children were born - I planned on letting their future partners know that I had already baggsed Sunday nights and Christmas dinner.

Now that those imaginary kids are actual flesh and blood, I still feel the same way about family dinners and the full table.

I love nothing more than the fact that the kids look forward to Sunday night dinner together and that despite everyone’s busy schedules with sports and friends etc, that our Sunday night meal is a priority.

Hey, their manners aren’t always that impressive, and as I once did to my parents, my boys take great delight in making me squirm with their choice of conversation topics, but I love that they too feel totally comfortable with inviting friends to join us.

They know I have baggsed Sunday dinner and Christmas for like forever and they too are all for it… for now… just as long as the Paddle Pops are always freely flowing.

With just one loud whistle from Dad, they race home from wherever they are – in the park or up the street on their bikes and skateboards and then as soon as they walk through the door they get busy with putting the music on and lighting up the lanterns and fairy lights or the backyard fire.

They are always as keen as mustard for a post dinner game of soccer or a swim in the pool and as they have gotten older, at least two of them like to be involved in the planning and preparation of the meal.

This makes my heart sing.

These dinners are what I always dreamed about and I hope that my children will one day also dream about recreating these Sunday night meals with their future families and that they will cherish these memories and tradition as much as I do.



I was dead set serious when I said that we let everyone have a say in what was on the menu. 

I know, I need my head read right?!

I’m the first to admit that it often makes for a mishmash of food on the table, but to their credit - everyone tries everything and for the most part everything is enjoyed… even the food that Carl and I suggest that they initially stick their noses up at.

On this particular Sunday night dinner, everything was devoured… although there are no prizes for guessing what the kids chose versus what we grown-ups chose for the menu.

Pumpkin & Beetroot Salad (see recipe below),Mixed Potato Wedges (see recipe below),Garlic Bread, PeriPeri Chicken, BBQ Chicken Kebabs and chocolate Paddle Pops.


SHOPPING LIST: You will need 4 large potatoes, 1 smallish sweet potato, Olive oil and seasalt.

SHOPPING LIST: You will need a couple of beetroot heads, butternut pumpkin, a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, mixed lettuce leaves, 1 lemon, feta cheese, ½ cup cous cous, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, caster sugar.


Coles of course always has an abundance of fresh produce on offer, so coming up with a menu that everyone will enjoy won’t be too hard. Of course if you are stuck for ideas you can always try out one of the delicious recipes from the latest Coles magazine which is free in store or you can download the current and the past issues here.

If you are dedicated to a more tradition Sunday dinner and by that I mean having a roast baking in the oven, Coles has you covered with their selections of Roast cuts including Pork, Beef, Lamb and Chicken.

All of the fresh beef, pork, lamb and chicken in the Cole’s meat department is Australian grown including the mince, burgers and snags too so you can rest easy your family meals are helping to support our Aussie farmers too.

And of course it would not be a Sunday night tradition if there wasn’t some kind of ice-cream or Paddle Pops on offer for  dessert, or on this particular night two Paddles Pops because these boys of mine totally scammed me.

Do you have memories of Sunday night family dinners from when you were growing up?
Is this a tradition you have or would consider introducing for your own family?

Monday, 21 September 2015

Let's Take it Outside

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IMAGE SOURCE

Drooling over other peoples gardens and back yards on the internet, in magazines and from the street just so happens to be one of my most fave past times.

That and drooling over divine interiors and clever crafty creations by clever crafty people and kicking back by the pool with the music blaring and the sandalwood burning and... I wont go on because I am completely losing my train of thought and you are thinking I am getting weirder by the word.

My point is I have a thing for gorgeous backyards and with Spring finally showing up and the weather hinting at getting a little warmer, I am itching to get outdoors and remove every last trace of winter from my own backyard.

So how does one get motivated to take on such a mammoth task?

Ahhh they pour them selves a G&T and sit on the couch with their trusty mac and look at the internet of course!

Der!

I'll save you all the effort and hard work - here's some totally drool worthy backyards I prepared earlier.

Happy Monday people. xx
clockwise from top left
clockwise from top left
clockwise from top left


Friday, 18 September 2015

Are you a Serial People Pleaser Like I Am?

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I have come to the sincere conclusion that I am a serial people pleaser.

Like practically the Hannibal Lecter kind of serial but without the fava beans, basement set up and face mask thingy and the killing people bit.

Actually I am probably more like a gigantic box of Fruit Loops kind of Cereal people pleaser rather than the Hannibal type... whatever.

My friends often tell me that I worry too much about what other people think of me and that I get far too hung on making people happy and worrying about whether someone likes me or not.

They are dead set right.

I DO spend far too much time worrying about what other people think of me, or over thinking what I said or didn't say and should or shouldn't have done, and I worry about it all... like A LOT.

Lord knows how may countless nights I have laid awake replaying conversations in my head, both verbal conversations AND written interactions because pfft, why stick with just one when you can cover both in one sitting?!

Did they know what I really meant when I said ... yada yada?

Did they think I was talking about them when I was saying ... yada yada?

Did I ask enough questions or talk too much about my point of view?

Did I offend them?

Did I piss them off?

Was I happy enough? Chatty enough? Friendly enough? Serious enough?

Do they like me???

Why don't they like me???

WHYYYYYY DON'T YOU LIKE ME????

Its frigging exhausting questioning yourself all the time.

In fact it is way more than exhausting - it is God damn downright knackering trying to be a people pleaser.

I wasn't always this way.

Nuh uh. I would even go so far as to say that once upon a time, particularly when I was in my mid to late teens, I was a completely self centred asshole.

But then I grew up... or at least started to.

I went to work in the grown up world where I soon discovered that egos don't go down well in a corporate environment and people don't generally like those egos very much.

So in true Sonia style - I made a sharp turn and went radically into the opposite direction where I lost myself deep in people pleasing territory, and it was there that I have remained to this day worrying myself stupid if I please people enough.

I think most likely (or at least in my case) such a strong desire to please and a yearning to be liked is possibly a form of insecurity... in fact I am pretty certain it is.

Should I or we or any of us really be so concerned with what people think all the time?

Is it healthy for us to worry about it too much?

OK so here's where I confess to what instigated this post theme - I have that unfollow app for instagram. *cue the red face* It's an app that tells you who follows or unfollows you and anyone who manages social media for people would probably be familiar with it.

To be fair, I generally use it for managing my client's social media accounts... but yeah OK my account is also linked up to it and so I can see when someone follows or unfollows my instagram account and I can see who is or isn't following me back.

Oh dang, you can see where this train wreck is headed can't you?!

*awkward*

So the other night I posted a photo on my instagram and later that night I noticed that not one but TWO people that I like and follow unfollowed me and I was all "Whhhhhaaaaattt? Whyyyyyyyyy? Why don't you like me anymore?  Did I upset you or offend you? What did I do wrong?"

Only I didn't ask them that, because that would have been even more awkward than me sitting here confessing this to you, and so instead I spent the night wondering why they unfollowed me and I picking myself apart looking for a reason.

I know.

No really - I KNOW!!!

Seriously Sonia.... What the Fuck?!!

Needless to say I do happen to realise that I am my own worst enemy and if I were you and you were the one telling me that someone had unfollowed you then I would have been totally "Meh their loss! Don't over think it or waste a good worry, you did nothing wrong, it's all cooool... yada yada"

Except in this case - it wasn't you, it was me and I did over think it, I did waste a shitload of good worries and I did spend the rest night wondering if I had somehow upset them or offended them or did something wrong or did they simply not like me?

Gah.

I told you - being a serial people pleaser can be frigging exhausting.

I need to find myself a new hobby... or at the very least get a life!

Are you a people pleaser?

Do you worry more than you should about what other people think or whether they like you or not?


Alright, enough of the dribble from me, it's time to get our weekend party on and I am thrilled to introduce a new regular Weekend Rewind Host who will be joining Bron and I each week - the fabulous Zoe from A Quirky Bird.



Our gorgeous friend Kelly is taking an extended break whilst she buckles down to plough through a gigantic workload but Zoe was keen to get involved and we were all HELL YES, because we think Zoe is all kinds of awesome and will make a perfect hostess and so ta'da say hello to Zoe!!!

Speaking of awesome people - this week's guest host is the incredibly clever Sarah from TOMFO. Now when I say clever, I mean like damn how did she think up that insanely cool DIY kind of clever. Every week Sarah has at least one new DIY project on her blog that will inspire the socks off you so make sure you head on over and say hello.

Image Map

Ok, linky time! To play along simply 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 Loves) or Zoe's blog (A Quirky Bird)It does not matter where you link as your link will show up in all 4 places.



Wednesday, 16 September 2015

#PassiveAggressiveMUCH?

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You can buy this totally rad notebook here
There are some days when people just really piss you off.

Know what I mean?

Dumb question really because unless you live in solitude then  I have no doubt that you do.

I'm not just talking about people who ruffle your feathers or irritate you like a mosquito would. Nope they are more annoying than anything. I'm looking at the assholes who literally make your blood boil, steam rise from your ears and your nostrils flare.

The ones who you get great pleasure from imagining them suffering from various acts of karmic revenge. As you seethe in silence you sit there and play it all out in your head - fabulous scenes where the object of your wrath suffers great embarrassment from moderately innocuous things like skirts tucked into undies, toilet paper hanging from the back of pants and missing their mouth in public and spilling coffee all down the front of their brand new white dress...

Oh wait... all those things have happened to me in the past year!!

Geez, who have I pissed off then??!!

As much I want to spill the beans on who got my eyes all twitching... I wont, because I am kind of passive aggressive like that.

Instead I do things like write really annoying cryptic blog posts like this and leave my poor friends wondering who has sent me into such a frothing frenzy of frustration.

Don't worry, it's not you... unless it is you... but then if it is you, you know exactly what I am talking about and if you have no idea what I am talking about, then rest assured, it's not you.

Gah.

Just because I am a complete wuss and won't publicly name and shame, it doesn't mean that you can't do so safely here.

OK, maybe don't use like proper names because... you know lawsuits and all that sort of stuff.

Instead make up a nickname for whoever has wronged you or pissed you off lately and then go to town in the comments and tell us what you think of them and why you are so mad at them.

Let it all out.

Say what you are feeling and feel free to use all capitals if you feel like it because getting all shouty with capitals feels extra satisfying.

As for me, I'll just stick to posting something totally passive aggressive like this on my social media and I will get much relief from seeing you release your grudges in full force.

OK shoot - who or what has made you mad lately...like REALLY rip snorting mad?
Go on - vent away and let it all out!

Monday, 14 September 2015

How to Prevent a Lack of Sleep From Stealing Your Soul

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Image source - cause I sure as hell don't look that good with a lack of sleep!

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I were snuggled up on the couch together rubbing my baby-filled belly while eating a tub of Sara Lee Cookies & Cream ice cream. We were watching the movie Nine Months and naively believed we were heading for years of parental bliss.
At the end of the movie the main characters wake in the night to their crying baby, they happily climb out of bed and then proceed to dance together with the cooing baby around their tidy and cosy living room with the twinkling city skyline as a backdrop.
I looked at my husband and he looked at me and we smiled that serene, we-really-have-no-idea smile at each other before clicking off the TV and retreating to bed for a blissful night’s sleep.
Fast forward three years and there was another baby in my belly. My back ached, my pelvis felt like someone was repeatedly stabbing me with a screwdriver every time I moved, I was bone-tired and that original baby in my belly was standing at the side of my bed at 5am prying my eyes open and demanding “warm weety bix peese, Mummy, NOW”.
In that precise moment I saw sleep pack its bag and storm out the front door declaring it was running away and never coming back.
Like EVER!
If this sounds all to familiar for you too - I'm sorry. No I truly am!
Head on over to Kidspot where I am talking about how a lack of sleep can steal your soul and how to survive those earlier years where your sleep-deprived body feels soulless.