Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Our trip to the Mornington Peninsula......

Last week we packed up the three kidlets and headed south to the Mornington Peninsula.

After a 5 hour drive and arriving very tired (not too mention crying children for the last hour!) we landed in Somers where we had booked a holiday house for 5 nights. We stayed at the Sandy Court Beach House. It was brilliant. You know that feeling when you book accomodation online and you just pray that it is as good as it looks and sounds on the website? Well, Sandy Court didn't disappoint.

A four bedroom house with an open kitchen, dining and lounge area, which then opened up onto a deck and lovely enclosed child friendly back yard. Conveniently, we could set up portacots in each room and close off one end of house during 'sleep' time. Whilst still being able to make noise and relax (if thats possible with small children!) in the living area. It sleeps ten in total, so the perfect house for one or a few families.

The kitchen was very well equipt. Best of all the Nespresso machine tucked away in the corner to save the early morning trips to the Somers General Store for a good hit of caffeine!. The store and beach was less than a 5 minute walk, so it certainly wasn't a chore popping out to grab the papers or sneak a quiet walk along the beach.

You can tell the owners have children themselves and that this house was very much a family haven. There was even a little cabin in the garden decked out purely for the children- tv/dvd/video and cupboards filled with toys and games for all ages.

I was in heaven with two shelves of cook books and magazines to read through.

So, what did we do whilst in Somers???

Well, we caught up with family which was our main reason for the visit.
Lots of play dates and family meals together.
We visited the beach at Shoreham and the cousins taught our 3 year old how to find crabs- a lovely sight to see. My husband and sister in law took all the kids to Rain, Hayne & Shine Farmyard, where the children had fun meeting and feeding the farm animals.
My husband even organised a wonderful massage and facial for me at Endota Spa at Red Hill. Lucky me!

Next time (perhaps when the children are a tad older) I will hit the shops with my sister in law in the local surrounding towns that I have heard so much about. And, sample a few wineries too!

Below is my collage of our week away......kx

Photos taken by Kylie Pickett

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Five Blogs Im following at the moment.....

The world of blogging intrigues me.......

There is just so much information out there that we can access at the push of a keypad.
Yes, Google is fantastic for finding the answer to removing stubborn grass stains from your child's pants or red wine from carpet. Or perhaps finding a recipe to use up that leftover turnip stashed in your fridge. Even finding You tube videos teaching you DIY jobs around the house. Its endless!

Blogs however, invite you into a very personalised world of someone, be it that they are near or on the other side of the world. The topics and discussions are endless, and in many ways I feel it is a way of each blogger expressing themselves in an open diary situation. So without sounding like I have stalking tendencies, I just love reading blogs and could easily spend my days browsing and going from blog to blog.

Here are five blogs Im currently following......

1. The cook who knew nothing - A finalist in the 2013 Best Australian Blogs Award.
If you are into food and photography, then you will enjoy this site. Tanya Zouev is a food and lifestyle photographer, and this blog is a result of her passion for both subjects. She shares practical yet delicious recipes. If the recipes don't make you drool, her beautiful photos will! I love her styling- both photography and writing.
Photos taken by Tanya Zouev

How delicious does it look? 
This blog is definitely worth a look for any foodie!

2. Nicoles Classes - Late one night I was exploring the net trying to find some on line tutoriols on how to use Photoshop and Illustrator programs. I came across Nicolesclasses.com -based in the United States. They offer a range of art & design courses online. I have since signed up to the Illustrator course and well, I want to do them all. Nicole has found the inner design goddess in me! Im hooked!
The blog is just a daily snippet of courses they are running, topics related to classes, free tutorials and downloads available, and creative works by their students. If interested in doing any online classes from photography to sewing to water colour to design, check this site out!

3. At Penny Lane- Meet Bec, a mum from the Gold Coast. At Penny Lane is a blog about styling your home without spending a lot. Its about being creative, on a budget, but with great results. Bec's topics aren't just about being a decor queen but also about being a busy mum to two small children, food, life in general and better blogging tips. I love the diversity of her blog....each blog is a surprise and a bit like reading your favourite mag! 

4. Not Quite Nigella- Yes, another foodie blog. Not Quite Nigella is a lovely collection of restaurant/ cafe/ travel reviews, and a collection of NQN recipes. I enjoy the stories that go along with each piece. And I love the title.....Quite relate to that one. Im currently reading the writers latest book called Not Quite Nigella- of course!  

5. Caitlin Wilson - This is the blog that tempts my craving for gorgeous fabrics and textiles. A very easy blog to read, filled mainly with photos of home wares. I just love her current range of cushions.

Photo taken from Caitlin Wilson Textiles website

Have you a favourite blog you are following at the moment....please share! kx

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sunday Family Roast with a Potato Gratin Twist!

Last Sunday we headed over to Yarrawonga to visit my husbands's parents. My sister in law and her children were also visiting so it was a fun cousin catch up for all the kids.

We love our family catch ups and Im very blessed to be surrounded by good cooks on both sides. Not only are all the women good at whipping up good food but we love talking food and sharing recipes and trade secrets. I have a bundle of emails sent to me from my mother in law, sister in law and sister of 'tried and tested' recipes that then become our family favourites. Its not about fancy cooking, but rather meals that are quick and easy to whip up using good fresh produce that ultimately tastes great.

I have to say though I cant resist Sunday Roast at my 'In Laws'. Fena 'whips' up the most delicious roast- whatever the meat! She has well and truly mastered the art as her growing family of six has catapulted and extended to almost 20! Being ten adults and nine grandchildren aged from 7 months to 11 years old.

We all pitch in whether its setting tables, peeling veggies, clearing up and washing dishes, or keeping the little ones out of the kitchen! 

To help this time, I offered to bring a Potato Gratin-the idea being less work for them that morning. Something easy I could prepare the night before, and travels well.

And really, despite not a traditional member of the roast family, who can resist a Potato Gratin?

Ive never been any good at making a potato gratin and so for years after making them (trialling with no success sadly-especially for Husband), I gave up and just ate everyone else's that seemed to work- and taste good- and then leave with a huge pang of jealousy.

Then I was flicking through a book all about country gardens with a few recipes thrown in, and found this recipe. It has the 1970's written all over it with the secret ingredient being French onion soup mix!
It seriously is so easy and tastes so good......and now I bake it quite regularly- it tastes even better the next day- if it lasts that long. Ive omitted sliced fresh onion, because I think the soup mix is enough, but you can always add if you want too.

So here is my recipe for the very easy Potato Gratin.....

You will need-
Enough potatoes thinly sliced to fill your casserole dish
600ml thickened cream
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
1 Packet of french onion soup mix
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper-to taste
Chopped herbs- parsley or thyme
Extra parmesan cheese for on top!

Start by parboiling the thin slices of potatoes. 
Place in dish and leave.
Mix together the cream, garlic, soup mix, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and chopped herbs.
Pour over potatoes and top with extra cheese and herbs.
Bake for about half an hour in a moderate oven.
Just keep an eye on it and basically it is ready once it looks golden on top.

And the best part is you can serve it with ANYTHING.....
(well, perhaps not ice cream!)
Enjoy x

Monday, 10 June 2013

I love long weekends......

I love long weekends.....in fact, I dont know anyone really who doesn't 
(except for those who have to work!)

This weekend we stayed at home and just had a few outings locally with our kids. 
One trip being to the Albury Botanical Gardens.
Its just stunning this time of year with the Autumn shades and fallen leaves scattered everywhere. 
This avenue of trees is a beautiful location for some happy snaps, which was my plan...
to try and capture some lovely shots of our eldest two running and playing,
however, it didn't quite work out! 

They are still a bit too young to listen to any creative direction suggested by their parents and when asked to smile they pull a face that they think is a happy one but looks like one of pain instead!

They did have loads of fun running and hiding behind the gorgeous trees and gardens, and playing in the Childrens Garden- a special spot designed just for the little ones where they can play with dinosaurs and hide in fairy houses.

Needless to say, we ALL came home exhausted!!!

Hope you had a fun long weekend....kx

Friday, 7 June 2013

The Little Paris Kitchen

 I have a new favourite show......

The Little Paris Kitchen!

My wonderful mother in law recommended it and well, Im hooked!

I love Rachel Khoo and her cooking style.

For those of you that havent yet discovered this show, its on SBS on Thursday nights at 8pm.
Or if you miss it, try SBS on demand. Its well worth the watch if you adore the parisian way of life and simple yet delicious food.

I sit through each episode and madly make notes on each dish. Then I call my mother in law and we drool over each recipe and talk about making them!

This is my attempt at making Oeufs en Cocotte or otherwise quite simply...Eggs in pots!

First of all, the ingredients.....
fresh farm eggs (courtesy of our friends Nicola & Peter!), cream fraiche, nutmeg, 
salt, pepper & some parsley.Rachel used dill but I didn't have any.  
You will also need some ramikins or tea cups. 
I used my vintage Villaroy & Boch egg poachers-how cute are they????

Simply, add a heaped teaspoon of cream fraiche into each ramekin. 
Sprinkle some nutmeg, salt and pepper over. 
Then crack an egg and add another dallop of cream fraiche and sprinkle of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Then some chopped parsley (or dill) on top.Voila!!!!
Place ramikins into a baking dish and add enough warm water to come half way up sides. 
Bake in oven at 180deg cel for about 20 minutes. 
Keep an eye on them so the yolk doesn't cook through though! 
Its all about the gooey yolk!
And the final result!
Served traditionally with leftover crunchy baguettes, however, 
the cupboard was bare so I used some english muffins instead.
How delicious and so incredibly simple. Perfecto for a chilly winters morning!

Bon Apetite x

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Bedroom Revamp

Recently we moved into a rental property. We sold our home which was built in 1905 and oozed character and charm but lacked the mod cons and moved into a brand new home out in the 'burbs.

We were very sad to leave our house, moreso the memories and good times that were had there. We only lived there for four years but it was the first home for our three bubs and the first house my hubby and I bought together. Saying that, I was secretly happy about the idea of having a bath and ducted heating and cooling! Oh, and an en-suite and walk in robe!

We have semi unpacked (this is an in between house) and well, the decorating bug has hit me already. But Im limited with my decorating given this is not my house and the fact that we have three children under the age of three-all fragile items are in storage and photo frames are on display up high! Im not sure the owners would appreciate me repainting feature walls to suit our taste! And there are no picture hooks at all in the entire house so the walls are very bare and not like our home at all. Im too scared to put in some hooks in case we end up losing our bond- extreme I know, but Im a virgo and I like to follow the rules!

So yesterday, whilst out doing a few jobs in down town Albury, I snuck into Adairs. I promise I was just popping in for a quick lap to soak in some home wares and get inspired. But, I walked out with a new doona set for our bed. It was very last minute and a design I would not normally choose. I have always been a big white girl.....crisp classic fresh white bedlinen and colour added with throws and cushions. But it was time for a change and our new bedroom was looking a tad boring and dull. It also only gets the afternoon sun so quite dark through most of the day and the white linen was looking more grey.

I bought the Mercer and Reid Azure King Size Quilt Set in blue. I think its fun. I actually was first drawn to the same design but the colours were red, pink, orange, mustard, beige and turquoise (called Autumn). It was very bright but then I saw this one and thought hubby would probably prefer the blue tones- my peace offering for coming home with  a new quilt set and not 9 Litres of milk!

Here's a few snapshots of our new linen...excuse the styling....I had two small assistants helping in the way of jumping on and off the bed! Plus I need to replace one of the european cushion inserts.

I also now need to find some scatter cushions to bring it all together. I do love the watermelon colour (http://www.adairs.com.au/soft-furnishings/cushions/home-republic/chevron-coral) with the turquoise, navy and beige, but Im also thinking a yellow chevron would be quite fun too. Our bedhead may also need a revamp-another project to add to list!

 So, stay tuned and I will upload some shots once I have decided on what colour and design.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Rhubarb Crumble Cake

As a child, I have fond memories of helping Mum in the kitchen. Usually baking some kind of cake, dessert or snack. We lived out on a sheep and cattle station in the Riverina, so trips to town were limited to once a week and if you ran out of something , you had to make do with what was in the pantry. My Mum was a great country cook and had us all helping out in the kitchen from a very young age. I particularly loved weekends when we would whip up a chocolate cake or pancakes or some yummy biscuits. Even better would be arriving home off the school bus to find warm pikelets smothered in melted butter and jam awaiting us hungary children. 

Mum taught us alot and gave us free reign in her domain. I have to say though, I did gain myself a reputation for wandering off after sucessfully mixing up the batter, pouring it into a tin, or placing on tray, then getting distracted by other activities. The one reminder of my baking efforts were the sniff of burnt cake wafting throughout the house. This habit continued well into my teens and I think it was only when I went to uni and started house sharing that I learnt how to time manage and, well, remember at all!

One of my jobs through uni was as a nanny, so my baking skills got quite a workout. I discovered rich chocolate brownies, tea cakes, sponges (which I can say I still havent mastered!!!), a range of biscuits from choc chip to afghans to milo (a favourite). Anything to fill a child up and keep them happy with a homely treat!

I love baking but try to curb my baking habits whilst at home these days. Needless to say, I have a pile of recipes on my 'Must Try' List.

Having friends around for morning or afternoon tea is the perfect excuse for a bake fest and trialling a new delight or making an old favourite.

Lucky for me, on this cold, miserable, rainy, autumn day, I had our dear friend Di pop around for a late afternoon catch up. Perfect excuse to whip an old faithful.....my Rhubarb Crumble Cake. This is a recipe a good family friend, Tess, gave to me 5 years ago. I fell in love with it instantly- not only does it look amazing and taste great....  it is so easy to make!!!!

So....to make this yummy cake you will need....

60g butter

380g brown sugar
1 tsp bi-carb soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
300g plain flour
500g raw rhubarb, sliced thinly
250ml sour cream
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla


Mix together 80g brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.

Beat butter and sugar together, add eggs and vanilla.

Stir in sifted flour, soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add rhubarb, rind and sour cream.
Combine well then spoon into a buttered and lined 20cm spring form tin.
Sprinkle topping over and bake for 50-60 mins in a preheated 180 deg oven.

Serve with a dallop of natural yoghurt or creme fraiche.... Enjoy xxxx