Toys, toys, toys!

We have sooooo many toys in our house that I am always tripping over or kicking something. To be honest I’m a bit over it, the boys have toys they play with everyday and toys they play with every so often.  The rest I just want to get rid of at this point – I won’t of course but I may be doing a clean out soon and packing some away. With twins you get an endless stream of toys and to be honest the boys still have toys sitting in our backroom that have not been opened since they were given them last christmas. It’s bad!! This year I really don’t want that. I completely get that toys are a fun present to shop for and give when you don’t have kids of your own but if they aren’t played with it’s just a waste of money.

On thursday night we took the boys to the shops and perused the 3 majors toy sales – Big W, Kmart, and Target. With catalogues in hand I searched out the items I thought were appropriate for the boys for christmas and their birthday and really looked at them.  Everything always looks great in catalogues, and surprisingly some things seem a lot bigger, but up close some things that we thought were great have now been crossed off our list.

Yesterday with catalogues in hand I created a document complete with prices, stores and pictures that we can email to family as a wish list. We already have presents to give the boys for both their birthday and christmas (for the next two years!!). When I see a bargain on either ebay or at a store I buy it. Why spend $100 when you can get something for $20. Yes I admit it at times I am a bit of an organisational freak, but only in certain areas of my life and house.

So hopefully people will follow my list and the boys will get some presents that I know they will play with, rather than a whole lot more junk to fill up my spare room.  I’m still expecting to get an overload of toys but hopefully it wont be as bad as this will be their second Christmas and birthday.

Stressed out!

Just a quick post today.  In the last week I have missed a few posts and I will probably miss a few more days of posting next week.  Honestly I have been very stressed out.  My little family unit has been under a lot of pressure for a variety of reasons and I have been working hard on finding the best way forward and making sure I look after the boys.

I feel under an enormous amount of pressure to make the right choices.  But really how do we know what the right choices are?  Life is about trying things and sometimes failing, and picking yourself back up and trying something else.  I’ve done it more times than I can count, but now that I have two little men to look after and guide I feel added pressure about making the “right choice.”  It’s a horrible feeling, particularly when we lack support.

So who do you turn to when life is hard?  Family?  Friends?  Your life partner?  All of those seem great but it’s not always easy to talk about the hard stuff.  And when things are not right with your partner it can be really difficult to keep it all together.  I don’t have the support around me or the people to talk to which compounds the stress that I feel.  Individual and/or family counselling can offer amazing support through hard times so I have taken steps to get support and I believe that’s a smart decision.  I know that it will take a while to work through how I feel and I will need to find some ways to release my stress but I have taken the first step and I know that the first step is generally the hardest.

Recipe – Beef Ragout

I got a version of this recipe off taste.com.au but it just didn’t work for me, so I adapted it so that I could put it in my slow cooker and just leave it. Its a hit in our house, served with some pasta.

 

Ingredients

* 1.8kg beef bolar blade, cut into chunks

* 250g short cut bacon, finely diced

* 4 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

* 4 celery sticks, finely chopped

* 2 brown onions, finely chopped

* 4 cloves of garlic, crushed

* 4 tins of diced tomatoes (410g cans)

* 1 and 1/2 cups red wine

* 3 dried bay leaves

* 2 large sprigs rosemary

 

Directions

* Heat a large pot (or your slow cooker if you have a searing pan) over a medium head with a small amount of olive oil

* Add bacon, carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes

* Stir in the beef, tomato, wine, bay leaves and rosemary and bring to the boil

* Transfer to your slow cooker

* Cook on high for 3 hours or until the beef falls apart

* Using tongs take all the beef out of the pot

* Shred all the beef – I use two forks, one to hold it and one to shred the meat, but you can do it with your hands

* Place beef back in with the sauce and stir well

* Cook for another 30mins with the lid off to allow the sauce to thicken (all slow cookers vary so if it is very watery add in some tomato paste)

* Serve with pasta and parmesan cheese

 

Notes –

* This is a great pasta sauce to freeze, just allow to cool and freeze in meal size portions

* This should easily serve 8 people, but you can add in even more vegetables to both hide them from the kids and bulk it out

 

The reality of having twins

twins

So carrying on with my reality series I thought I better start sharing what its like to have twins. Although my twins are only just approaching the 18 month mark I’ve learnt a lot over this time and hopefully I can share my experience with others.

Parenting takes a lot of patience and negotiation but with twins you need to further develop those skills along with a whole range of others. It’s hard but it’s oh so rewarding. As much as I complain at times my boys are amazing, they are the light of my life and I can’t imagine not having them. I’m looking forward to all the kisses, hugs and I love you’s that two little men can provide because it really is twice the love.

From twice the costs and double the headaches to twice the joy to go around, this series will hopefully be everything you need to know about having twins. This will be a several part series over a few weeks as it’s far too long for one post, so if you’d like to learn more I suggest you either follow us on facebook or follow my posts to keep up to date. And if there’s something you’d like to know that I haven’t posted about yet please feel free to ask and I will try to answer you as best I can.

In the meantime you can check out some of my other reality posts below…

* The reality of parenting

* The reality of having children

Check out the posts in this series here…

* The first three months

Recipe – Creamy Mango Puree / Ice Cream

So when the boys were little I made lots of puree for them and I would freeze it all into ice-cube trays and then transfer it to plastic snap lock bags. As they got older and started eating more I started freezing it into avent storage cups.

I came up with lots of recipes to try new flavours and this one puree I still use for the boys but now I make it as an ice cream. So I either freeze it into storage cups and we eat it with a spoon or I put it into icy pole containers. I know it’s not the right time of year for ice cream but with both my boys teething with their molars it is actually a perfect food to have for them as it numbs their whole mouth and besides its yum!

Ingredients
* 2 ripe mangos
* 2 bananas
* 1/4 cup plain yoghurt (or vanilla if you are making your own easi yo like us)

Directions
* Cut the mango into sections and scoop out the flesh
* Transfer to a food processor or blender
* Add in the bananas and yoghurt
* Puree / blend until smooth
* Transfer to containers
* Freeze overnight

If you have a baby you can still use this as a puree (from about 8 months is the recommendation), just spoon feed it to your baby or use a pouch (like we use the my lil pouch). Or you can freeze into ice cube trays and pull out the night before to defrost. You could also add cubes to smoothies with some milk. Yum!!

mango

Meal planning this week

So it’s been two weeks of pretty much no meal cooking or planning as we tried to use up some of the already cooked meals from our freezer. I completely failed on what I was suppose to make last week and instead made the boys Peach and coconut balls, a variation of this recipe, and Pear balls, a variation of this recipe.

Our freezer is still quite full, it seems like a bottomless pit at the moment but there is quite a lot of meat in there.  So my plan for this week is to do a few more things with what we have and try to keep avoiding the supermarket for anything other than bread and milk.  Our lack of supermarket shopping lately has meant that we’ve really been able to catch up on our bills which is honestly a big relief!

Monday – Pasta with Bolognese sauce

Tuesday – Chicken in balsamic vinegar, lemon and basil, recipe here

Wednesday – Last week of my course (yippee!), so something from the freezer

Thursday –  Steak with mashed potato

Friday – Tomato and Chicken Risotto, recipe here

Saturday – Take out pizza (yes we are on a budget but we do still do take out – it is possible!)

Sunday – Slow cooked beef with red wine and peppercorn sauce

IMAG4011

Our last bulk meat shop

Recipe – Asian Chicken Broth

I love this soup in winter, I originally came across it in a AWW cookbook but have since adapted it to suit my needs.  There are several ways you can have this which I have outlined at the bottom.

 

Ingredients

* 1 litre chicken stock

* 1 litre water

* 1 stalk lemon grass, finely chopped

* 4cm piece ginger, sliced thinly

* 2 small red chillies

* 2 tablespoons soy sauce

* 1 tablespoon lime juice

* 1 tablespoon fish sauce

* 1 bunch choy sum, chopped (can substitute bok choy or pak choy)

* 500g chicken mince

* 3 cloves garlic, crushed

* bunch of coriander (chop part of it finely and the rest leave whole)

 

Directions

* Combine the chicken stock, water, lemon grass, ginger, chilli and soy sauce in a large saucepan.

* Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5mins

* In a bowl combine chicken mince, garlic cloves and the finely chopped coriander

* Roll this mixture into balls (I make mine slightly bigger than a tablespoon)

* Add balls to the simmering broth and cook for 5 minute (or until balls are cooked through – this will vary depending on how long you leave it for)

* Add lime juice, fish sauce, choy sum and cook for a further 2 minutes

* Add some coriander just before serving

chicken broth

 

Notes

* You can have this as a plain broth, just don’t make the chicken balls

* Another options is to have this as a clear soup, with or without the chicken balls (as pictured).  Don’t add in the choy sum or coriander and after cooking your chicken balls in the soup, take them out and strain the soup.  Add the chicken balls back in and enjoy!