Friday, June 28, 2013

What to see at the movies

    Now that I live in country Queensland, I haven't been able to make it to the Big Smoke for the usual holiday movie previews. 

    Usually, the kids and I like to watch the school holiday movies, so you don't have to pay to sit through the crap ones.

    But it's not always possible to make the three-hour trek to the city for the previews, though I'm working on having a small team of guest bloggers to do the work for me when I can't be there. 

    In the meantime, I threw this school holiday's movie reviews open to my peeps on twitter and Facebook.

    Here's what they had to say:

    Man of Steel
    Twitter's McClaaaaaaane! ‏@RealJackMcClane had this report:*
    'I was so disappointed with Man Of Steel. Had been waiting so long for it and other than a few scenes, it was a bit meh.'
    But he added:
    'Russell Crowe was awesome and the opening scenes were terrific!'

    * Remember Twitterers only have 140 characters per post to reveal their thoughts

    Despicable Me 2

    Nadine Dewberry: I went to see Despicable Me with seven kids aged from 3 to 9, (3 girls, 4 boys). They all loved it. The three-year-old sat still the whole time, no one got scared, and there were plenty of laughs, both out loud and inside from the adults. Oh, and the kids lol.
    Always have to stay around for the credits to see even more funny bits.
    Great story line with a few surprises. The nosy neighbour is a tad funny hehehe. 
    Our popcorn was burnt; that was the only complaint from anyone. People were leaving the cinema all abuzz, talking and laughing about their fave parts, recommend it to everyone.

    Bec Waterhouse:  My kids LOVED Despicable Me 2. Abi sat still and quiet for the entire movie and danced during the credits.
    Viv Temple:  Saw Despicable Me with my 7 and 8 year-olds. Both kids loved it - a little scary towards the end but not bad at all. Plenty of polysemic discourse so enjoyable for the grown ups as well. Would definitely recommend it!

    Monsters University

    Michelle M Burke: We watched Monsters University today and loved it!! Very very clever, funny and laugh out loud moments!

    Lizette Phillips and Mark L. Fendrick also gave Monsters University the thumbs up.

    Isn't it great that none were universally hated? Thanks to my guest reviewers for their help. 

    Apologies for the freaky font on this blog. With the kids away on a wonderful adventure with their Dad, I have an unusual helper …

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kids in the kitchen ... and a giveaway!

My kids love being in the kitchen.

As you know, they're always baking, roasting, stirring, and whipping up meals and goodies for us and even guests occasionally.

It's not something I've pushed on them.

I guess their Dad and I both love to cook, so it's something they grew up with. I also grew up baking alongside my Mum, so it just seemed natural to involve my own children when they showed an interest.

So I was all too happy to agree when I was approached to review some delicious and healthy new snacks for kids, with the promise of giving some away to my followers as well. (The snacks, not the kids).

Called Fast & Fruity, they contain pourable, 100 per cent fruit, with no extra sugar or preservatives. And we all know how kids love fruit already prepared and ready to devour!

The idea is Fast & Fruity pouches can be popped into lunch boxes or picnic baskets, or used to make delicious healthy goodies. They can also be popped onto pancakes and into smoothies, or onto desserts. Or just used in place of tinned fruit, but without the sugary syrup. They are gluten free too.

My kids can't wait to experiment with the school holiday pack that is winding it's way towards the South Burnett as I type, and there are three packs available for three lucky readers to share with their kids.

Winners will each receive:

 Fast & Fruity  2 x 500 gm pouches of each of the three flavours, be-licious berry and apple; golden peaches with a hint of vanilla; and sunshine sweet tropical fruits
-          1 icy pole maker (makes 4)
-          1 Sundae Glass
-          Jelly crystals
-          Recipe cards for: Tropical Jelly Fruit Stack, Hummingbird Cake and Yummy Fruit Blocks. 
The packs are valued at $39.05
Doesn't some school holiday cooking sound like a perfect chilly day holiday activity?

And this is how ones the Fast & Fruity people made earlier turned out:

Hummingbird cake. Drool.

Icy poles

Not quite a sundae; a smoothie instead. Yummy. 

If you'd like to win, just leave a comment sharing your favourite cool weather school holiday activity. Winners will be drawn after 5 pm on Thursday June 27, so they will have time to use their packs during the school holidays. 

Remember to check back to see if you're a winner!

The competition has ended and the winners are: Merryl, Your Cheeky Monkey and MichVee. Make sure you contact me with your addresses so I can organise for your prizes to be sent to you. Congratulations!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lounging around ...

A few things have changed since we moved to the South Burnett.

With Jack Frost nipping at our toes in the mornings, the kids enjoy a 'hot chocolate' (cup of milo) first thing in the morning.

I get up a little earlier to put the heating on in the lounge/dining room to get it toasty for them and make lunches.

I'm still feeling spoilt with luxuries like reverse cycle in the living area - it's just wonderful. We try not to use it too often because I don't want to get a fright with the first bill. But we definitely need it in the mornings and evenings to take the chill off the room.

We're cooking a lot more too, as some of the photos in my previous posts have shown. It's lovely to have a decent kitchen again, with a stove that isn't so old the numbers have rubbed off! And with an oven that is big enough to fit a roast in and has more than one shelf in it! 

Best of all, we have a lounge area big enough to, well, lounge in. 

It's tiled, which would have been really chilly if we hadn't gotten this gorgeous rug from to brighten up the place. is a fab website where you can shop for all kinds of cool appliances, homewares, toys, furnishings and more. 

We picked out this stylish rug for our lounge room floor. There were plenty we liked, but this was one we all agreed on. It's so warm and soft, it's like sitting on carpet. I can't imagine we'd be this comfy without it.

A review online said it was easy to vacuum, which is important in our house, since it's going to get all kinds of rough treatment from the kids and pets. Okay, and me. 

You can't even see the spot where Lucy the pampered pooch spewed soon after the rug was unrolled, can you? Cleaned up quickly and easy with a bit of water and a soft towel. 

The kids find it soft and warm to sit on ...

And snooze! 

Lucy found it was a safe place to lay her head after her recent desexing operation. (Nawwww ...)

The rug was delivered to country Queensland just four days after I placed my order, so I was really impressed. 

If I have one criticism, it's that the rug does show the fluff a bit too easily for my liking, and I have to vacuum a little too regularly. Or perhaps we are just messy? (Don't answer that!)

And take a look at at your own risk. There are so many bargains, you will be easily tempted to shop!

Disclaimer: gifted me a rug to the value of $100 for the purposes of this review. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Making memories

It was a long weekend here, and we made the most of it.
Saturday morning was as good a time as any to join our local library, something the kids had been keen to do since we moved here.
They are keen readers, and the librarian made them feel welcome, helping them find the books they wanted and enroling them in kiddie reading program.

The library was bags of fun!

Chase tried his luck at the old-fashioned games at a local festival.

At home, he treated us to his famous fettucini carbonara ...

With a little help from his sister!

 She's a budding chef too! Putting the finishing touches to her spaghetti bolognaise.

 And a home-made butter cake

Which she plated up like this! Hmm, butter cake with chewing gum and skittles. I wonder what the Masterchef judges would make of that? 

Writing this post got me thinking about the number of photos I have, locked away in my computer.

I rarely take the time to print them out or even save them onto a USB or disc.

I have dozens of photos around the house of when the kids were babies or toddlers, but hardly of any of them as they are now. The images are all stuck in a laptop somewhere.

Is anyone else guilty of this?

A friend put me on to photobox, an online company that will print your photos, make books, cards, and canvases of your memories. If I got organised I could even make a photo calendar for family for Christmas! 

I guess it would save me the hassle of going to a store and printing out my photos. 

Can you believe we used to have to wait for photos to be printed just a few years ago? And we couldn't delete the bad ones? (Or embarrassing ones!) 

And how annoying it was having to wait before we could share the images with loved ones?

I guess that's one benefit of having our memories stored on a computer. But I really must do something about storing them and sharing them somewhere else so I can look at them around the house as well. I don't even have an up to date photo in my wallet - but it's okay because there are several on my phone. 

Erm - until I lose my phone I guess!

I think I'll just go and make some hard copies of my memories now ... Anyone with me? 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A home in the country

The pace here is slower in the South Burnett, and we like it.
People seem in less of a hurry and have more time for a chat.
Everyone from sales assistants to librarians seem to get an abridged version of our life stories pretty quickly and are interested too.
I notice drivers stop at the school crossing – even if the lollipop person isn’t on duty. They let you in, whilst driving, or acknowledge you when you do the same to them.
At one of the local medical specialists, you pay the out of pocket gap – not his total fee. Then he waits for the cheque to come from from medicare for the rest. So you’re not hit with that horrid initial upfront fee, then having to wait at Medicare to get the rest back.
Of course, getting in to see a GP can be a challenge – rural doctors are in high demand -  but we’ve managed it so far.
And there’s the space. The roads are wider. The parks are quieter. We still feel spoiled at home, where as we unpack, we are finding places to put everything.
We have a kitchen big enough to enjoy cooking in again.
Somehow, our routine is less busy, less rushed. We seem to have more time in every day.
I don’t know how the country worked that magic, but it has.
Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re not sitting in traffic so much, rushing from one appointment to the other, from one side of Brisbane to the other. Everything is so much closer now.
 Perhaps, could it be, we are just happier?
The view certainly helps …

We just have to wander outside to feel instantly at peace 

A kitchen we can cook in ...

With room for all!

A place for everything 

Everyone in the family is at home!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Moving on up ...

I've been quiet on the blogging scene recently, and that's because I've once again been embroiled in the all-consuming madness of moving.
And in this case, moving house for reals. As in, not just jumping suburbs or streets, but taking a giant leap of faith and swapping the city for the country.
We've moved to my old stomping ground of the South Burnett, where I've got family and some more support, and the kids are enjoying the wide open spaces and fresh air.
The living is cheaper too. We've got a far nicer, safer, warmer home (and it will be cooler in summer) than the one we had in Brisbane, at a fraction of the price we were paying there.
The last few weeks in Brisbane passed in a daze (days?) of packing, plus wrapping up milestones at school. Not to mention sad farewells.
We are still settling into our new home, not to mention marvelling at the luxury of having a stove with numbers on it, a non-human dishwasher, and a safe yard for Lucy the fur kid to play in.
I'm proud at the way the kids are taking to a new school and the challenge of a different routine and making new friends.
For now, it all seems new and different, but apart from the cold weather - yes, it is cooler than we are used to in sub-tropical Brisbane - there is a lot to like.
Hopefully it will soon seem less new, and a lot more like home.

 Saying farewell ... We found the guinea pigs a good home

A last dinner at Yum Yum Peking Duck at Darra

Harmonie's Bunny came too ...

Fun with friends at the school fete
Responsibilities - Chase looking after the Crazy Hair stall at the school fete 

There was fairy floss eating to be done ...

And an all important year 7 leadership camp to be conquered! 

Somehow, amidst the action, the moving fairies worked their magic and the MIA household was transported from Brisbane to Kingaroy. And nice warm beds.

Readers, have you moved house recently? Did you hate it as much as I did?