Sunday, 29 January 2012

On A Working Holiday

Hello to all my faithful readers! I know I haven't been around recently, it's been quite hard juggling all I have on at the moment. 
I have been putting alot of time into getting Back Pocket Designs off the ground and it's proving really successful.  I have had a few custom orders that I have made and filled and I am busy sewing and making up some custom made bags, aprons and a few other crafty things so I can build up a little stock to go to a few of the local markets that we have around here. 
We also have had Master 4 start kindy last week, my cousin, her husband and their new baby came to stay and on Tuesday Master 5 starts back at school! Pheww end of January is proving to be passing in a blur!  
Oh and my garden is really quite neglected - although it is being faithful and in amongst all the weeds it's producing cucumbers, courgettes/marrows, tomatoes, lettuce and we have some spuds on the way as well.  We have had a really unstable summer so far and on the days I have set aside to get out there it's normally ended up raining which does not help!

So I have had to make a very hard decision - in the short term, I am going to take a Working Holiday from Come Smell the Roses.  This makes me feel sad, I love keeping this diary of what we are doing, and sharing some of my tips and recipes, but for the stress levels I need to cut down on some of my commitments temporarily.  If I have a spare few moments from time to time I may come back here and post a few things, however for the most part, Come Smell the Roses will be having a holiday and will be put back into action when this busy-ness is under control and we are back on our feet in the House of W. Hopefully it'll only take a month or so and then I can join you all again :)

So in the meantime, I will continue every so often to visit my regular blogs that I like to read, and I have started a page for Back Pocket Designs, so you can find us here and all our crafty creations.  You can also come and see us on Facebook where I am regularly found at Back Pocket Designs NZ - Facebook Page

So take care my lovely readers, I hope to see you over at one or both of Back Pocket Designs pages, and back here when we are up and running again :)
Ruth xx

 A few of my creations for Back Pocket Designs :)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Catching Up

Wow really? it's been over a week since I last posted?? I'm so sorry! I have had a new project at home and time has flown away from under my feet.  I haven't even found the time to bake and fill the tins up this week. Check out this link here to see my page - Back Pocket Designs NZ this will show you what I have been up to :) I've started up a little venture selling what I make and at the moment I have just started this facebook page to advertise and act as my order/sales page until I see how I get on.  I have 3 orders in so far so need to get to work on them :) I hope to make up enough stock so that I can start going to our local markets on a Saturday, but that will take some time to get there.  
I'm feeling my way through this and I remain optimistic that it will take itself off the ground with a bit of work from myself and MrW, but at the end of the day it's just a little fun crafting and my boys and our home are my first priority.  Master 4 starts school in 6 months so it would be neat to have this as an up and running business to be earning a little income for us.

So as I type I am planning my day and I need to go to the fabric shop so I can complete a custom order, I will try over the next few nights to prepare my next Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill post.

I wish you all a great day, and I'm sending my prayers today to Sue and her family  xx

The Go Everything Bag

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Ruth's Chocolate Brownie - A Monday : Baking Day Feature

Welcome to my ''Monday: Baking Day'' Feature. Every Monday is baking day in my kitchen following a phrase over here in NZ from the old Farmbake Cookies adverts. So I thought it would be a great way to share some of my yummy baking recipes, some being my old faithful recipes and some new, but I hope they are recipes that may inspire you to create Monday: Baking Day in your kitchen :). I love to swap recipes so if you have something scrummy to share then please feel free to create the recipe post on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your post for us all to share. Just remember though if you have a recipe to share from another blog, that's great, but please do the right thing and provide a link back to the original recipe, this is also a great way to share our blogs :). HAPPY BAKING ..... and enjoy!

Well this is a special day for all that have popped by to see what's been happening in my kitchen! Today I will share with you my SECRET Brownie Recipe - shhhhhhhhhhhh don't tell anyone ;) ;) LOL, I was just informed by MrW as we sit here devouring our late night Brownie treat that I started making this Brownie in 2004 or thereabouts, I must say I did not realise it's been a treat in my kitchen for that long! My how time flies!  Anyway back to the Brownie, this is a recipe I have spent many years perfecting.  It is a recipe I have made up to cure my Brownie-itis  that is neither loaded in expensive ingredients (I mean being frugal does not mean being able to put a whole block of chocolate in one recipe no matter how devine!) and it does not contain a tray of eggs, which a few years back when this came into existence I had an egg intolerance/allergy which meant I couldn't have more than 2 eggs at a stretch in any baking.  It also works with Egg Replacer for any that cannot have egg at all. I seem to have now settled with that allergy and can tolerate eggs a lot better, however I still have not changed this recipe :)
It is my go to recipe for wanting something quite yummy in a hurry, it's gorgeous hot and cold so it's often one I whip out when guests are coming or I'm going somewhere and I have half an hour to prepare devine is it to walk into a kitchen where fresh brownie has just been pulled out of the oven!  It also works as the most delish desert with Ice Cream or Cream (and strawberries), you just cook it for slightly less time for the gooey centre that compliments a desert perfectly :)  It keeps for a couple of days in an airtight container also......if it lasts that long that is!

Ruth's Chocolate Brownie

125grams Butter
1/4 cup Cocoa
1 cup White Sugar
2 Eggs
1 good slosh of Vanilla Essence (about 2 teaspoons)
Just shy of 1 cup of Self-Raising Flour (or just shy of 1 cup Plain Flour and 1 teaspoon Baking Powder)
1/3cup or so Chocolate Chips - completely optional
A handful of White Chocolate Buttons - enough to dot over the top of the brownie

In a pot melt the Butter and add in the Cocoa.  Whisk over the heat for a few minutes.
Take off the heat and if adding Chocolate Chips add them now and mix until melted.  Add the Sugar and give it a good whisk around.  Add Eggs one at a time whisking in well after each one, add the Vanilla Essence and mix.
Change to a spatula/wooden spoon and fold in the Flour.
Pour into a slice tin lined with baking paper.
Now this is where I get a bit tricky - place White Chocolate Buttons all over the top of the mix, gently with the tip of your finger swirl the mix over the chocolate.  The point of this is, if you just push the chocolate into the mix it sinks and is hard to cut the bottom and it breaks easier, if you just leave them uncovered they break the top all up, so by swirling the mix gently over the top the chocolate sits in the middle of the brownie and stays there.
Bake at 160degC for around 17-18mins, check with a skewer, you want it to come out mostly clean, if a little sticks to it, it's just perfect to be slightly softer, you don't want to overcook this or it will dry out when cold.  If you want it for a desert about 15-16mins is normally sufficient.  Dust with Icing Sugar and cut into desired pieces :)

Gently swirl the mixture over the Chocolate Buttons


Monday, 9 January 2012

Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill (Part 2)

Welcome back,  and thanks for popping by to read Part 2 :)

As I mentioned in the last Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill I was going to find the pantry staples list that I found in Sophie Gray's work all those years ago.  However I cannot seem to locate in amongst my books the list that I used.  I found some basic ones that weren't quite what I was after and I'm sure I had another one I apologise if you've come back wanting to read this.  I will try at some point to draft up what I would consider to be staples for the pantry for you. 

Part 2 is all about Goals and Budgets.  How can one succeed in achieving a task if you don't know where you are heading? 
So it's time to sit down and have a think about the direction you want to head in.  These are the questions we use whenever we are re-assessing what we are doing and trying to cut back, I hope they may help you:

Firstly for the budget what are you currently spending? Are you happy with this amount?  If you aren't sure what you are currently spending then you may need to take a few more grocery shops to get an idea.  I used to write on a calendar (an idea I got from my friend M) whenever I would spend something on groceries.  This helped me see where I was going with the food bill, even though I was operating a strict cash budget it's still good to know where it's going and to curb some of those non-urgent expenses.  If you use your bank cards to purchase your groceries then go online and work it out.  It might be an idea to start collecting your receipts anyway for reference later on.

Next how often are you shopping?  How often do you NEED to shop?  You shouldn't need to shop more than once a week, even for milk and bread. If you are going down more than once a week, we need to work on you changing this and adjusting your big shop so you are catering properly for your needs.  We tend to use our pay period as a guide.  MrW gets his salary in fortnightly so I do my big shop fortnightly at the supermarket and fruit and vege store.  The week in between my shops I go to the Fruit and Vege Store (and only here so temptation on non necessary items are squashed) and I buy the milk and the fruit and veges we may need for the week.  I have tried shopping monthly using a stockpile system but it would take me so long on this one shopping day that I decided fortnightly suited me better although in saying this, I still run my stockpile system with my levels that I stock at a months worth, but more on this in the stockpile post.

So now knowing what you spend and how often you NEED to be shopping i.e no more than once a week, how much would you like cut your spending by?  Maybe even if you just try for now spending $40 less per shop? If you manage to save $40 a fortnight from your groceries this is an extra $1040 you are saving that can be used elsewhere in your household/debt expenditure.

The next point leading on from this is setting your budget.  You NEED to set a firm budget of how much you want to be spending on your groceries (we want you to aim for spending under this amount to gain a surplus but that's a goal for when you are more settled with your budget).  For us with a family of 2 adults and 2 children our budget is $210 a week (we've recently re-assessed and lowered this from $230 when we had a rent increase), now I actually only spend on average $160 - $180 a week, so I have a nice surplus at the end to save or put towards other things we may need that are non grocery related (hmm a certain vet bill and fabric sales shopping springs to mind :) ). I think the only time I have spent up to the full budgeted amount in a long time was at Christmas time.  Now to give you some perspective, when both boys were babies we were spending $350 a week (yes I know a WEEK! I barely do that in a fortnight now so it still horrifies me I was shopping and swiping the plastic for that amount), through constant watching and re-assessing not to mention trying all different ways we have slowly bought this amount down over the years and have been sitting at our current budgeted amount now for about two years.  So be realistic about what you think you can manage, set your budget and stick to it, you can always adjust it later.  Now this firm budget means firm! you won't get anywhere with this if you let things through over the budgeted amount, you'll just keep going around in circles (yes speaking from experience).  If you get to the checkout and your over your budget, you have to be strong with yourself, choose some non-essential/luxury items and PUT THEM BACK (horrified gasp, yes I know it's embarrassing but after a while it becomes second nature....but I'll touch on ways to avoid this in a future post). Now inline with the budget is how you want to work the money for this.  You can refer here for my post on running a cash and envelope system.  My advice is however you see fit to deal with the physical money side of it, do it in a way that it doesn't get mixed up with other money, and you loose track of how much you have on hand.

Here is a post I wrote a while back on budgeting if you want a little more info.

With the budget out of the way now, the next step are your goals.  What are you are aiming for in your shopping and your home? By this I mean are you wanting to be as frugal as you can and go for all the specials, do you want to be more 'Green' in your systems at home, therefore shop for environmentally friendly products/septic tank/grey water safe products, or is it a bit of both? Are you simply just aiming to slow down the frivolous spending, or are you wanting to be making things from scratch so concentrating on buying staples to do this and less pre-packaged and processed foods? This will help you going around the supermarket assessing which brand/special to go for.

Ok, I think this about covers the budget/goals side of it, I hope this has given you some food for thought and a place to start with the grocery budget.  It's all just a case of trial and error, just start with little reductions at a time and you will know when you are at your optimum amount to be spending.  

Just realised the time! better head for bed. For anyone wondering, I know it's Monday and I haven't done my Monday: Baking Day post, I actually for the first time in a while, didn't bake today, but it's in the plan for tomorrow so I'll post it tomorrow :)  Night all

Holidays Over, It's time to get stuck into 2012!

Good Morning all!

Well I know I have been posting already since we embarked into 2012, but today is officially the day when it all goes back to normal in our house (well not completely normal as school/kindy is still on holiday, but back to the routines needing to be back into place).  MrW is back to work today, which means I need to get back to work as well not having him around.  We have enjoyed a nice break over the past two weeks, although we got rained out and our camping trip got called off it meant we spent the two weeks at home, just cruising.  We haven't done that in a very long time, and it was well overdue.

So the Menu Plan was set last week and now into action, there is baking to be done and lunches to be stocked up on in the freezer for MrW, the housework has piled up as we both turned a blind eye to all but the essentials, and the garden needs some attention (although it's raining so not sure when that'll get seen to). I have planned also to give the boys some 'lessons' every now and then to keep up with the skills learnt last year at school for Master 5 and to start the preperation over the next few months in anticipation for Master 4 starting school in June - Oh my!.  I have something going on in my craft world which I need to be giving attention to where I can (all will be revealed hopefully very soon!), and of course there is writing my blog for all you lovely readers out there :), the Living Series will continue and there will be many more interesting topics to cover over 2012.

Time to put the new diary into action, start some task lists and get some grounding into this New Year :)

I'll be back later tonight (well that's the plan) with Part 2 in the Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill. 

Until then, here is a photo of the boys I thought I would share.  A big milestone was achieved these holidays, they both got their training wheels off and learnt to ride their bikes without them! So proud!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Knitted Blankie

Over December (and yes some of November and into early January) I attempted to knit something bigger than a scarf or hat. I thought it would be an awesome idea to put the knitting needles to task and knit a blanket for my cousin's wee baby who has just turned 3 months - Hi K and Baby E xxxx.  
Considering I was trying to make it up as I went along (really should start using patterns!) I had to re-start it twice to make sure I got it looking the way I wanted it.  My inspiration for the pattern was actually a small sample knitting square made of a wool the wool shop in town was selling.  This was like a small 16cm by 16cm test square and I thought I could do that..........hmmm :) When I finally cast off, it was an awesome feeling that I really had completed what I set out to do and I'd done it well :)

The reason behind this idea can be attributed to wanting a little blanket about this size when the boys were babies.  I always wished for one that could go to the carseat and buggy and other small places we sit babies, one that would wrap around them and keep them warm but not be big and bulky or trail on the ground behind you (I dirtied a lot of blankets this way!). It's also the perfect size to carry around if Baby E is a blankie girl when she is older.  Master 4 is a blankie boy, he doesn't walk around with them but if he is on the couch or just chilling out he likes to grab a little blankie and wrap it around him - so cute :)

So here it is - Baby E's blanket 

made with Bella Baby 4 ply wool in pink and white, knitted on 4mm needles, 205 Rows and 34,850 stitches :) 

Friday, 6 January 2012

Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill (Part 1)

Hi and Welcome back!  
To follow on from yesterday this is the first part to my Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill. 
I was brainstorming on how best to write these posts as I wanted to make sure I was covering all avenues that I can think of, that I use myself to help me in my quest in lowering the food bill.  So I was thinking about the best place to start with all this, and my answer?  Well of course it should be at the beginning! So particularly if you are in a muddle with your food spending or just have no idea what you could be doing differently or how to start making these savings, I hope this will help you.
I would just like to note now, everything I write about in these posts are my personal experiences.  Everything I suggest as things to try I practice myself, because it is what I tried and what I found worked for us.  I don't claim to know everything by any means and there are other strategies and things to do and try out there, but these posts are simply me sharing what I have found to work.  My quest for lowering our food bill starting about 6 years ago with the impending arrival of our oldest son. I have had many ups and downs in that time and we've researched and tried just about every strategy and published tip that we could find and most of them didn't suit the way we work, which we found after giving them a go.  About 3 years ago I think it was I finally developed a system that worked for us, (this was based around ideas particularly from Sophie Gray and adapted to suit us) and over the past wee while I have added different strategies to what I do and how I shop and I have been able to trim things down even further (thanks goes to Rhonda Jean here for making me see the light on Stockpiling).  So I really hope I can help you and save you time finding the food bill savings light :)

So onto Part 1 - It's time to look in the Pantry!
I think the best place to start is with the biggest place food is kept in your house.  Have you cleaned up in there recently or is it one of the jungles that really needs to be tamed?  Pull everything out onto the bench.  Wipe it down and now start sorting through what you have on hand. Have you got an organised system?  A big part when it comes to writing your weekly/fortnightly/regular shopping list is being able to see or know what you have on hand easily.  It's really hard to be able to do this when you have little packets spread everywhere, and if your like I was there will be the same things opened in different bags.  You can refer to my post here on ideas on how I got my pantry into shape on a frugal budget. I reference in here my beginning of a stockpile but I will touch on this in a future post.
Good places to try if you are after containers for storage are the Op Shop - I got all my large jars there which I store things like dried fruit in for .50cents each,  the $2 and variety shops normally have a selection of smaller storage containers - I got mine about 4 years ago and they are brilliant, I spent $10 and got 5 containers and keep my Icing Sugar, Cocoa, Cornflour etc in them.  For larger container to store things like Flour in keep an eye out in the Supermarkets or The Warehouse (in NZ) for half price sales on their storage containers, I picked mine up for about $5 each at Countdown one day.  Whatever you end up using, just make sure they are airtight, give them a warm soapy wash out first and dry them thoroughly so no moisture is left. 

Now when you are ready to put everything back into the pantry in an organised, easy to find way, discard anything that is past its used by/best before.  Put aside anything that has been floating around in your cupboard for months and you don't regularly use.  Are these items ones that you bought thinking one day you'd use it? or was it something on a special to good to go past but it's not something you regularly use?  Have a think about how you could use it, google a recipe for whatever item you may have and if you can't come up with a way to use it up and get it out of your pantry where it will probably stay for another year or 3 then see if you can give it away to someone who might.  I used to forever keep things in my cupboards that I would pick up on a whim and just sit them in the back of the pantry collecting dust only to be thrown in the bin when I would unearth it years later - what a waste! I make a rule now that I only buy things that I know how to use, or that I know I can use or else it gets left in the supermarket. If I really want to try something new, I research it first before I buy it.

Right that's the first task over, so if you have completed a massive pantry overhaul Well done! if your pantry is already organised and you know whats in it, well done to you to! if your contemplating whether it's worth doing, then I urge you to just start with one shelf - say your baking shelf and see how you get on :)

Next task - grab yourself a cup of tea/coffee, a pen and some paper.  Write a list of all the main meals that you cook regularly.  How many have you got? enough to rotate around in a week or a fortnight or what your shopping period is? if you feel your list is a bit light in the amount of different meals you cook then perhaps you could have a flick through your recipe books and see if there are any you haven't done in a while or would like to try.  Once your happy with your menu list, add to it the breakfast cereals that regularly are eaten, and general things that are used for lunches and baking.  In your pantry (and fridge for sauces etc), right now, do you have all the staples (flour, stock, sugar, salt and pepper, weetbix, porridge etc) you need to make these meals? meat and veges aside that is?  This is the direction we need to start heading in, making sure you have on hand the ingredients you most often cook with.  This saves running out midweek and whipping to the supermarket for 1 or 2 things and coming out $100 later. 

Tomorrow I will write out a list that I found very helpful from Sophie Grays recipe book on what she considers to be pantry staples.  I found this a great starting point and then adapted it to suit our needs from there.

Righto that's the end of Part 1, I hope to see you back for Part 2 which I will be writing about goals/budgets for the food bill and also assessing what you could be realistically making yourself from scratch rather than buying ready made.  Until next time...... :)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Living Series - Savings in the Grocery Bill (Intro)

Righto, time to start this series, I have been wanting to write about this since I started this blog.  This is such a huge topic and I could go on for hours on this, so I thought it best to break it up into steps to make it a little less overwhelming.  I will try and post one of these at least every second day or so, so watch this space.

The reason why I have so much passion (I guess you could call it passion) for this topic is it is an area where I have personally saved ALOT of money to give back to our budget for other essential living costs (Over the years I have dropped our grocery bill from +$300NZ per week to now averaging $180NZ per week for the four of us) .  In fact it is an area that most people can save in, and sometimes all it takes is a little tweaking to a current system and you can make more savings.  

This series I hope may help those starting on their journeys to organising their homes, kitchens and the grocery bill. I hope it may bring a little motivation and new ideas to those that have a system or half a system in place but it's not working out to well. Or as I find, when I read other bloggers posts, to those that have a system in place that works, perhaps there may be a new idea or two in here to try, or please feel free to leave comments if you have other systems/ways of doing things that work on the topic.

I'll cover quite a few points in my posts, so if you have a question about anything, either leave a comment in the comments section or you can email me at - I love questions, they get the brain thinking :)

Well I do hope you find this series interesting and informative and you pick something up along the way. I'll wait to see you on the other side with an organised pantry, perhaps a stockpile, a daily menu plan, an organised shopping method and most importantly SAVINGS ON THE GROCERY BILL!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Polkadot Polkadot

Hi there!  Well I thought today I would share some of my crafty creativeness :)

Oh I've been having fun the last few days! I made the most of the Spotlight Christmas/New Year sale and saved my pocket money for a month and went on a bargain hunt for some material to start a few projects.  On my project list were two new school bags for the boys, a new handbag for me and an apron or three for my stash (To take me up to one for each day of the week....I mean who can have to many Aprons right? They are a much needed part of 'uniform' for any Homemaker I feel). I also got a new folder so that I can transfer my personal recipe book into a more organised form. I also found the Learn to Crochet book that I have been after for ages, it has an instructional DVD and a range of crochet hooks, so when I find some time I can learn to crochet :)

Master 5 for his birthday in May got a brand new school bag to start school with (one that cost quite a bit to buy) and it is now after 7 months at school falling apart, like they seem to do these days.  Master 4 starts morning Kindy when term goes back so will be heading off 5 mornings a week and will need to take a bag with him with changes of clothes, some morning tea and for the summer his togs for playing under the sprinkler. He also starts school in June anyway so needs a decent bag.  So rather than buying more bags that will fall apart after 5minutes I asked the boys if they would mind if Mama made them one each..well the fabric has been chosen, the cutting out has begun, and there are two very excited boys hanging off this Mama's apron in great anticipation of their new 'army' bags (they both chose Army material :)) I am doing them in the same style as this one here that I made last year, however I'm adapting the pattern quite a bit in different ways, so the fingers are crossed I can get them to work as I want.

The boys bag material, I'm going to use plain black calico to line them
And here I was last night...hard at work putting together an apron :)

 Unbeknown to me until I downloaded the photos MrW had sneaked in this photo.  I'd like to point out now for you to have a clearer picture of MrW, he's a bit of a geek LOL.  You can see the arm chair has been brought into the sunroom up to the table and he has set himself up with his Playstation Formula 1 Racing game (he built the wooden rack the steering wheel is on).  When queried I was told 'well if your in here sewing dear, I can at least be near you if I'm in here" :) fair enough so he has one end of the table for his gaming and I have the rest for my sewing - win win really :) 

and this is the finished product.  I'm really happy with this one, it's very 'me', and lining it with the black makes it look a lot more polished. 

I did a dance for the boys - Excuse the morning no hair and makeup :)
I also have some secret stuff I'm working on which I will share with you soon I hope.  The problem for me was this secret stuff required more material.  Having no money left over in the budget and having blown my pocket money the only problem to get this much needed material was where to find the money for it. So MrW set me a target with an agreement that if I managed to have money left over at the end of the grocery shopping I could then use this to buy it. Well have money leftover I did! I was super organised and super frugal and managed to save quite a fair amount from the shop (thank goodness for my stockpile!) and headed back on up to Spotlight and had lots of fun.  My stash now looks like this................

I can't wait to be able to reveal what it's all about so watch this space :)

Have you been up to any crafty-ness recently? I'd love to hear about it so please leave a link to your post/s on your blog for us to check out :)

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Prawn Linguini - My version

Today was shopping day in our house (yes I really must get onto those shopping posts!) and as usual I did my menu plan before heading out.  I came across a recipe that I tried and adapted to 'our' perfection last summer that had fallen into a slumber in my stack of loose recipes, so I thought I would make it tonight, with fresh Prawns from the supermarket......MMMMM we've all remembered how much we love it!

This recipe is so easy, quick to make and uses fresh ingredients, it just gives it that certain something :)  The original recipe came from my Jamie Oliver Ipod App, but true to my style I've adapted it to our tastes and my style of cooking.  The boys love love love this, and I think from a Mama's point of view it's pretty important for children to be trying (and liking) all sorts of dishes and tastes.

MrW and I costed it out and this dish cost $2.89NZ per serve for our four servings, and I must say they were very generous servings :) You could stretch it out and make it five servings at $2.31NZ per serving and add a side salad.  We think that is pretty good going, since we consider this to be a 'fancy' meal on the menu that gets made once in a while as a treat dinner for us all.


Enough Dried Spaghetti Pasta to feed 4-5 (about half a packet I used)
A good few sloshes of Olive Oil (enough to cover the bottom of your pan)
4 cloves of Garlic - Diced 
3 or so Spring Onions - Diced up using all of the spring onion not just the white bulb, you could substitute this for a Red Onion
1/2 a Capsicum - Finely Diced
1 glass of White Cooking Wine (aka the cheapest Sav you can find)
1 punnet or a generous handful of Tiny (Cherry) Tomatoes cut in half
A few good dollops of Sweet Chilli to taste
A handful of well chopped fresh Basil Leaves
300gms of Prawns - I used pre-cooked shelled Prawns but you could use raw shelled Prawns just cook them for longer
Salt and Cracked Pepper
Sprinkling of Raw Sugar

Put salted water onto the boil and cook Pasta until al dente (firm but not hard).
Meanwhile heat your Olive Oil in a pan (I use a wok), and gently fry off the garlic until it slightly colours.
Add in the Spring Onions and Capsicum and fry off for a few mins.
Add the wine and simmer at a high simmer for a few mins to reduce it slightly. (The alcohol disappears with cooking so its ok for kids and pregnant Mama's)
Toss in the Tomatoes and Sweet Chilli sauce (the amount depends on your personal tastes, I use about 3 good globs/sloshes) and simmer for a while.  I find at this point I'm stewing the tomatoes down which gives beautiful flavour.
After the Tomatoes soften slightly add the prawns, fresh basil and sprinkle over some Raw Sugar.  Cook for a minute longer and season with salt and pepper.....taste taste taste.  
Re-season if needed or add some more Sweet Chilli Sauce if you want a bit more flavour.
Keep in mind once the prawns are in if using pre-cooked, you don't want to cook for to long or they go tough, you really just want to heat them through.  If using raw Prawns cook until they are pink all over. It doesn't take very long though.
Lastly drizzle over a little more Olive Oil, drain Pasta and toss the pasta through the Sauce.

Serve into bowls, you can sprinkle over some Parmesan Cheese and cracked Pepper if preferred or have it as is, then ENJOY!

All ingredients in and stewing away

Toss through the pasta

Serve and Enjoy!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Oaty Chocolate Chip Cookies - A Monday : Baking Day Feature

Welcome to my ''Monday: Baking Day'' Feature. Every Monday is baking day in my kitchen following a phrase over here in NZ from the old Farmbake Cookies adverts. So I thought it would be a great way to share some of my yummy baking recipes, some being my old faithful recipes and some new, but I hope they are recipes that may inspire you to create Monday: Baking Day in your kitchen :). I love to swap recipes so if you have something scrummy to share then please feel free to create the recipe post on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your post for us all to share. Just remember though if you have a recipe to share from another blog, that's great, but please do the right thing and provide a link back to the original recipe, this is also a great way to share our blogs :). HAPPY BAKING ..... and enjoy!

These cookies are a favourite in our house, I've had the recipe for so long I can't remember where I first got it, I think it could have come from a bunch of old family recipes I was given a while back.  They go down well with the kids as they have a little bit of Chocolate in them, but they go down better with me as they have Rolled Oats in them for a bit of fibre, and I've adapted it to include some form of dried fruit - be it Raisins, Apricots, Sultanas, Cranberries or Currants etc.  These are great lunch box fillers, and they freeze well :)

Oaty Chocolate Chip Cookies

125grams Butter - Softened 
100grams Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
150grams Plain Flour
1 generous teaspoon Baking Powder 
75gms Rolled Oats
50grams Chocolate Chips * 
50grams White Chocolate Buttons * (Optional)
75grams Dried Fruit * - Raisins, Currants, Apricots, Sultanas, Cranberries etc

* In truth I don't measure these ingredients, I tend to just throw in a good handful of each 

Beat together the Butter and Sugar until well creamed.
Add the Egg and Vanilla Essence and beat in well.
Sift in the Flour and Baking Powder and add the Rolled Oats.  Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Add and mix in the Chocolate Chips, White Chocolate Buttons and dried Fruit.
Roll into balls and place on a greased or lined baking tray, leaving a little room to spread.  Flatten slightly with a fork or your fingers.
Bake at 180degC for approximately 10mins or until golden.

This recipe has been linked up to Sweet as Sugar Cookies for Lisa's Sweets for a Saturday feature

Christmas Album 2011

Here is a little album of our Christmas 2011 :) 

Every year we take the boys to Franklin Road up in the city, every (or nearly every) house is decked out in awesome light displays :) we went up with some friends and all had lots of fun admiring the lights

Christmas Eve we give the boys a present that they can open, it's a little tradition MrW and I started when they were babies.  They get a new pair of PJ's, a new book and a new toothbrush, here they are all excited in their new PJ's with their books ready for bed :)

Our night time glow from the tree, it's always sad taking it down at the end of Christmas

Christmas morning we awoke to find Santa had visited and left some magic non-melting snow on the floor and a little letter thanking them for being so good throughout the year, and to keep it up for next year ;)

Always the exciting part, opening the gifts :)

Aww cuddles to say thankyou for the present

We're all going fishing this year :)

Scooter Man!

Master 5 trying out his new skateboard

Then it's onto our traditional Christmas morning fare of PANCAKES!! always goes down a treat :)

 We spent Christmas day celebrating with MrW's family, great food, lots of fun and play, and a nice day chilling out with our loved ones

My Pavlova I made for Christmas pudding, my SIL's very cute little decorations in the background. I believe they are old paperback books pulled into this shape and painted?? anyway they were very cool!
Lots of water play and riding around for the boys and their cousins

Onto Boxing Day, we had a traditional Christmas Dinner (at lunch time just to confuse the children!) with gorgeous food and great company 

C my friend made the cooked ham, and I made the roasted veges and Chicken with Prune, Yoghurt and Mushroom stuffing - yummy yum!

I played around with desert and made Chocolate Mousse - now this was DIVINE! Made with real chocolate and lots of cream.  I'm glad Christmas is only once a year lol
The next day the boys Gran came to stay and I made another Roast Chicken for dinner with the same stuffing as it went down so well the day before, and a traditional (well for my family) Pavlova for desert

To work off all that awesome food, we headed out to try out the new rods....MrW of course caught the one that got away ;)

We enjoyed a lovely Christmas this year, it looks like it was all about the food though! We were all very grateful for being able to spend time with our much loved family and friends and of course, some quality with each other.  MrW still has some more time off for a bit, we were meant to be camping but it's wet wet wet here in NZ so we'll be going later on in the summer, but that's ok as it allows a few things to be done around home and of course so much needed relaxation.

We love sharing Christmas stories so leave a link back to your own blog in the comments section to share yours.

We hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and New Year,
Onto 2012 we go :)
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