Friday, March 21, 2014

Amigurumi stars

I recently came across this pattern online for amigurumi stars and I was immediately intrigued. They seemed simple enough and looked like a fun way to use up some of my yarn scraps.

 

A few YouTube searches later to freshen up my admittedly very rusty crochet skills and I was off. My  first formless blob didn't leave me with much confidence.

First attempt
However, a fortuitous visit from my crochet guru friend had me back on the right path and enthused anew, and my second attempts were better. Improved enough that I deigned to put eyes on them anyway.
Getting better
I had initially thought I might make enough to create a garland or a mobile for Ellie, but I think when I finish my current one, I'm retiring from crochet again. I don't even want to think about the number of times I have had to rip out and redo stitches here! Each little star that I have is definitely made with love.

Have you ever seen something and then when you tried to make it, maybe didn't quite 'nail it'? Please share!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Transitioning to a big girl bed

Recently, we took the side off Ellie's cot, in preparation for moving her into a 'big girl bed' sometime down the track. We did it on a weekend, so she had time when we were home to get used to it. We laid pillows on the ground just in case she fell out, and made a fuss so she knew it was an important and fun milestone.

The cot, minus a side
It's worked out pretty well considering it was a random, spur of the moment decision. For maybe the first week, there were no falls out of the bed. Ellie would wake up around 2am and the only thing that would console her would be moving into bed with us for snuggles. Mr Fork would fall blissfully back asleep and I would have a toddler breathing into my neck and kicking me in the ribs until the alarm went off.

After that, we re-evaluated the change and helped her to manage it better:
  • We reinstalled her nightlight in her room. Previously she would have one that switched off after 15 minutes, but the new setup gives her an additional light that stays on all night.
  • Instead of closing her door all the way, we left it cracked a little so if she wants to, she can get herself out of bed and come to us.
  • Instead of lifting her into bed at nap and sleep time, she was a big girl and encouraged to climb in and out by herself.
We've had two falls since then, as she gets more confident with the new boundaries, but she fell onto the pillows and no harm done. She also sleeps right through and loves that she can get up and bring a favourite toy into bed with her if she wants to. 

Her abacus is currently toy of the moment
On the down side, I've learnt to dread the little pitter patter of her feet as she slides out of bed and runs into our room. I hear a little voice say 'mama?' before a smelly security blanket is thrown on me and my determined toddler tries to hoist herself onto the bed for cuddles at an ungodly hour of the morning.

To be honest, though, I treasure those early morning cuddles.

How did you start to move your child to a bigger bed?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Nutella breakfast-palooza GIVEAWAY

As one would expect when given a large amount of Nutella to experiment with, it's been featuring quite heavily in our morning diets and play dates lately. We've tried to use it in new and inventive ways, while attempting to stick to my 'breakfast should be relatively healthy' mantra.

Here are a couple of things we've been eating:

Breakfast bagels. I've been tweaking my bagel recipe lately, and I think this is my best batch yet! I substituted some of the flour with wheatgerm for extra fibre, and replaced the olive oil with coconut oil for a subtle taste enhancement. Just quietly, they're delicious, and even more so served fresh out of the oven with some Nutella spread on top! Some of my Instagram followers are all for baking Nutella into a bagel batch and I admit I'm intrigued...

Bagels
Pancakes. No pictures as they were all consumed as soon as they left the pan. Thanks so much Ellie and Mr Fork! Cooked to perfection then stuffed with a variety of things. Nutella and strawberry. Nutella and banana. Nutella, strawberry coulis and slivered almonds. Nutella and coconut shreds. My personal favourite was the Nutella, coulis and almond combination.

As a sort of ready made fondue for fruit. We've used it successfully with slices of pears, peaches and strawberries. My favourite however has to be with dragonfruit. I'm lucky enough that my MIL grows them so when she has excess, I get them. I do have to compete with Ellie for them though... but, Yum!

Dragonfruit and Nutella. Odd combination, but it works!
Layered into chia pudding. This delicious looking concoction is chia seeds soaked overnight with almond milk and a little vanilla essence. Layered with some of fresh strawberries and Nutella and garnished with coconut. This is packed full of energy and kept me going right up until lunch time with no snacks at all.

Chia pudding
Chia pudding




















Now, it's no fun me talking about Nutella if I can't share the love! The nice people at Soup have offered a prize to one lucky reader. In the pack will be:
  • 30 x 30 gram Nutella jars
  • 1 large Nutella jar
  • 1 x $50 Woolworths voucher
Use the Rafflecopter widget so I can track your entry, and leave a comment on the blog telling me about the novel, delicious and healthy ways you would use Nutella at breakfast time!

The winner's email address will be provided to Soup to enable the team to arrange the delivery of the prize.

One (1) winner will be selected through a random drawing from all eligible entries after the contest closes to win. All entries must be received on or before March 21 2014 at 12:00AM (GMT +10). The winner will be notified by email. Winner will have 24 hours to claim the giveaway after initial notification. If winner fails to claim within 24 hours, an alternative winner may be selected. 

No purchase required to enter or win. This contest runs from March 14, 2014 through March 21, 2014 at 12:00AM (GMT +10).

Eligibility
This contest is only open to Australian residents. Prizes won by minors will be awarded to their parent or legal guardian on their behalf. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.

**Disclaimer: I was supplied the Nutella to try and review, but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How does your garden grow? March 2014

My last garden update was back in November 2013 and given that it's a whole new season (and year!) now, I thought it was high time for an update. In fact, I thought I might turn this into a monthly theme and document the changes in how my garden is growing.

So, in my garden is...

A virulent pumpkin vine. I honestly couldn't tell you what type as this little fellow grew out of some compost I'd spread into the raised garden bed. I've trained him to grow out and along the fence line, and Mr Fork is both simultaneously happy that he has to mow less grass, and disgusted that he'll have to re-cultivate that area when the pumpkin vine is gone. I was getting plenty of flowers but no fruit as the bees weren't doing their job well enough... so I went out there armed with a cotton bud one morning and manually pollinated all the female flowers I could find. I felt like a dirty pervert doing it, but I've got a pumpkin now, and I've never had that before. Can anyone advise when the correct time to pick them is?

Mystery compost pumpkin
In my garden is...

Some eggplants, which aren't producing quite as well as last season's plants did. The eggplants are also smaller, and I'm unsure as to whether that's because the plants are still small or they're a different variety. I also have a grasshopper infestation that just won't move on no matter what I do.

Eggplants
In my garden is...

Rangy looking, yet delicious cherry tomatoes, another compost present, although I do know they're an heirloom variety. These plants have been superstar producers, giving a bowl full of tomatoes a week. They're the sweetest little fruits ever, perfect in salads and and cooked into warm dishes too.

Heirloom cherry tomato
In my garden is...

A sweet potato and galangal section, which has really flourished since I put it in over four months ago. I'm also unsure when to harvest the sweet potato, but the leaves are very healthy on the top. Mr Fork's parents tell me I can cook the leaves and use them in stir fry dishes, so I may try that one of these days.

Sweet potato and galangal
In my garden is...

A flowering geranium which was given to me by a colleague and has managed to survive despite all odds. I'm quite chuffed it's decided to live and flower, as is Ellie who pats that little pink bloom every time she walks past it!

Geranium, pretty in pink
Also in my garden, and visible in many of the pictures, is an abundance of mulch. Mr Fork bought a mulcher/shredder machine and has great fun feeding all the branches and hedge trimmings into it. I think it's fabulous as I get mulch, and all of the garden waste is recycled into something that helps my garden grow instead of being carted off to the dump. Win!

What's growing in your garden? Share with me, and if you post on your blog, please link back to here and we can start an online garden share collection!

Friday, March 7, 2014

How do you like your pancakes?

Pancake Saturday has slipped lately in our house, partially because in the warmer months the sun gets up earlier and so does Ellie, so we switched her swimming lesson to 0645. We figured we were up anyway, so may as well take advantage of the extra awake time. It does mean that our pancake tradition has declined though, which I've been determined to remedy.

With Shrove Tuesday (pancake day) approaching, it was just the excuse I needed. Although, since I work on Tuesdays, I planned to make pancakes on a non work day instead. So everything aligned nicely, especially when the people at Soup asked if I was interested in taking part in their Nutella project. Nutella was already a brand I was familiar with and more than a little in love with, so I said yes.

I have to confess though, that my experience with Nutella mainly consists of eating it with a spoon from the jar so I was intrigued when I was told that this was a breakfast themed project. Apparently, Nutella has always been a big player in the European breakfast scene, with crepes and sliced banana, or maybe thinly spread on fresh crusty bread. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I jumped right in!

Ellie and I think that Nutella pairs perfectly with (heart shaped for extra fun!) pancakes.  We happily munched our way through pancakes with nutella spread thinly on them. For variety, there was some fresh strawberry on the side, but the real star of the show was that yummy hazelnut spread! And maybe the coffee for mummy too... You can see some of the other Nutella creations on Instagram under the hashtag #NewWaysWithNutella

Heart shaped pancakes for extra toddler appeal
The best part, is that the Nutella project goes for four weeks, so there is no doubt that you'll be hearing more about how we get our Nutella on in chez Fork! For me, it's going to be all about adding a small amount (because a little goes a long way) into other healthy breakfast ideas to make them even more yummy.  I'm thinking Nutella smoothies, Nutella chia puddings, maybe even some breakfast bagels with Nutella!

Do you have Nutella for breakfast? How do you eat it?

**Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Whats in my... kitchen, March 2014

I am linking this post in with the lovely Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's monthly In My Kitchen event.

In my kitchen is...

A collection of ice block moulds, Decor and Ikea brands. Technically for Ellie, but Mr Fork has been known to steal them on occasion. It seems she has been teething forever, and cold food helps her so I simply blend up whatever fruits I have handy, add a little water if required and stick them in the freezer. Delicious, healthy, frozen treats, perfect for sore little gums. She loves them!
Ice block moulds
In my kitchen is...

Apple crumble, to take advantage of the change in season. I love the colder months - food wise it means warm desserts and rich, comforting foods. This is taken pre-baking and it was served with a side of ice-cream. Yummy! Quite frankly it's a hit with people big and small.
Crumbly goodness.
In my kitchen is...

Comfort food. Lasagne, ready to be baked and then served. This is a vegetable lasagne, chock full of silver beet, carrots, red lentils, mushrooms and other vegetables that looked a little sad. This dish will keep Ellie in dinners for ages. It freezes well and is a hit. I'm happy because it's pretty healthy, stores well and she just gobbles it down when it's served.
Lasagne
In my kitchen is...

A secret stash of mini MaltEaster bunnies which I have hidden away from the toddler and the husband for my own personal consumption. This was a surprise present from an awesome person who knows just what I love!
MaltEaster bunnies - too addictive for words
In my kitchen is...

T2 relax tea, which is enjoyable to drink as the weather turns colder. Full of chamomile and other delicious things, this is one of my favourite ways to wind down in the evenings. Sounds a bit nana-like doesn't it?!
Relax!

What is in your kitchen?

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