Sunday, May 30, 2010


Not a day goes by (since January 24th) that I don't think of that epidural and smile!!! I am so very grateful for it, I can't tell you how warmly I feel towards it. If it were a person, I would follow them around trying to save their life and repay the great debt, kind of gratitude. I know sometimes epidurals don't work properly, or there are random and rare side effects, but when they're good, they're SO GOOD!!!

Here's something for the glad game: I'm glad my labour was so long and messed up, because now, I have something new to smile about, every single day!!!

(Yes, I know I have Maggie to smile about too, but I could have smiled about her if my labour were 10 minutes long and I didn't feel a thing.)

Monday, May 24, 2010


Here's where I got the choko soup recipe - it's the last thing on the page.

James said to me last night "That choko soup wasn't that great. Next time, let's just substitute all of the chokos for potatos" (sigh). Maybe it was partly the joy of not having cooked or even served it myself, maybe it just blended perfectly with my flu, but whatever it was, I liked it a lot, and I used mostly ingredients from my food parcel.

Jillina - Honestly I've tried hardly any of those 4 ingredients recipes, but one that I've done quite a few times is their Chicken and Rice Casserole on page 114. It actually serves 4 - usually if there are more than 2 of us I have to double recipes because James eats at least 2 or 3 people's portions, but this one is great. It's super, super easy, you just chuck everything in and put it in the oven for 2 hours and it's perfect, and it's delicious. I would definitely recommend adding onion (even though it takes it up to 5 ingredients lol), I haven't tried adding celery. Maybe even adding vegies would work - I usually just cook some on the side. THe downside is that it's not the cheapest recipe because it involves 4 chicken breasts, but I usually bulk buy them on sale at Big Gun which helps :)

I am excited to try the recipes you've tried, and am definitely going to cut down on the sugar in the cake, thanks for the tip!! I also find the sound of the Aussie BBQ Steak with Vegemite interesting lol. Hey have you got a good recipe for a pineapple upside-down cake? I have a yummy one Mum got from Domonique Rolls years ago - I just thought cause you said you often toss in pineapple, you guys might like it. It's also easy which makes it perfect for me, and uses all normal pantry ingredients so I always end up making it when I've forgotten to plan dessert :) If you let me know I can email it to you :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

10 Things I Love About Maggie

1 I love that Maggie loves to snuggle :) When she first starts making little sounds at the end of a nap and I pick her up, she nuzzles into me and sometimes falls back asleep. It's so sweet.

2 I love Maggie's beautiful sweet smile. She smiles at many different things. When she smiles just because she looks up and sees me, I feel like I just won the lottery, except way better than that because she's our daughter and she knows us and it feels like she already loves us too. Latey she smiles everytime someone plays 'peek-a-boo!' with her. She's getting to be so much fun!!! Tonight I was playing it with her in the middle of her feed (she was taking her time) and she kept looking at me for a while after I finished, as if she wanted me to keep going, so I did it again, and so did she, until finally I had to stop and encourage her to get back to her feed!

3 I love the way Maggie eats. She is sooooo funny. Sometimes she's really, really intense and attacks her food and ends up choking and spluttering every 2 secons while she tries to continue eating at the same time, going red in the face. Sometimes she very calmly but determinedly sucks, while she stares directly at something else. This is often me, the couch, James if he is nearby (this one's cute - she'll swivel her head to look at him and sort of sucks out the side of her mouth, for ages lol), my feeding cover, or whatever else. Sometimes she takes her time with a meal. She'll have a few sucks, stop to examine a patch of white wall or something, then continue sucking for a bit, take another break, etc. This e-x-t-e-n-d-s her feeds and I half-heartedly try to get her to stop, but I can't help laughing, she is so cute. Sometimes, she's feeding away, then she stops and pulls off, looks at me, then smiles for a bit and goes back to feeding. Again, way to melt Mum's heart, and make me oblivious to the fact that she's taking all day :)

4 I love it when Maggie talks. She just sits there making her little sounds and blowing rasberries. Her little 'talking' sounds are so sweet and happy! This morning I was in bed sick, and I could hear her on her play mat talking away for ages. I love to hear those happy sounds! :)

5 I love how much Maggie loves her nappy changes and baths and little massages. Before we bath her we put everything out, have nice, fluffy towels ready, fill a warm bath, etc., and it's a really pampering little session - cotton wool balls, powder, moisturiser massage, head massage with shampoo and conditioner, the works, and it really feels like Maggie appreciates it all :) She smiles at us and relaxes and lets us take care of her :)

6 I love all of her facial expressions. She is so much fun!!!

7 I love how fast she is learning everything and how much it seems like she loves to learn!

8 I love her stares. If you know her, you know what I'm talking about. I've never met anyone - infant to adult - who stares like she does. She'll sit in the same spot, staring at somebody or something for the longest time, with a very serious face. Sometimes she'll start grinning almost as if she can't help herself, before returning to her serious face. I wonder what she's thinking? It's like she's learning everything and everyone. Try and have a staring contest with her - I guarantee she'll win. She doesn't seem to need to blink like grown up people either. You'll blink first, you can't win! :)

9 I love how easygoing Maggie is. Ever since she was born she's been pretty chilled. She's such a textbook baby. If she's crying, she's either hungry or tired, or in rare cases a little unwell or uncomfortable. There's always something we can do to fix it, she doesn't ever just cry for kicks!! If she's on the floor playing, she'll only start grizzling if she's been there for a while, and I feel like she's totally justified with her 'Hello parents, a little bored now!' cry :) She'll sit wherever, go to anyone, look at anything, sleep whenever (LOVE the whole self-settling thing! Now when we're at home, she pretty much just dozes off as soon as we put her down in her bassinet!). She's always up for a smile or a game or a cuddle. If we keep her up way past her bedtime she doesn't get cranky or anything. She's so easygoing, she's made us think 'Wow, let's have another!' way earlier than we thought, which makes me think that maybe there's another sibling up there waiting, and that's part of the reason she's been so easy for us! I wonder if the next baby will be more demanding and shock us into baby reality lol.

10 I love Maggie - I love the sweet, little, funny spirit we feel from her. I love it when she looks at me and I know she's thinking something interesting or amusing or loving from her little expression. She's so much like her dad it's funny - but she's her very own little person too, and I can't wait till she can talk and tell us all the things that are going on inside that little head of hers!!!

I love Maggie :) xo

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Chokos were Lovely Thankyou Very Much!!

Okay family members who have written derogatory things about chokos recently - seeing as Tammy I'm pretty sure you haven't even tried them, and Dad (even though you haven't written I got your feedback through Tammy), apparently (and from my recent experience this seems to be true) they take on the flavour of whatever you cook them with, how can you hate them??!

I am sick at the moment (please send the flowers to my usual address - chocolates are fine, I'm never THAT sick unless I'm pregnant, and it's the flu, so no worries), and I had set my 'making choko soup' adventure for Tuesday night, when I first began to feel sick. James came smilingly in early from work having not eaten his packed food in anticipation of the dinner I'd assured him I was making, only to find me sitting pretty much where he'd left me. I let out a sick little moan just to complete the scene. His face fell a little, but he soon got around to realising I was obviously MUCH too sick to make dinner and he'd better get onto it if he wanted to eat. He asked what I would like, and I quickly pulled out the choko soup recipe at the same time as I sighed and assured him I could just heat up something canned because I was so unwell and couldn't expect him to spend an hour cooking after a long evening at work. Much to my delighted surprise, he decided to make up choko soup! I managed to drag myself to the kitchen to spread some crushed garlic over some bread and toast it - gross, but I really, really hate being sick, and the least I could do was add the side dish to our dinner.

Even though at the time I was being a little bit cheeky, I am beyond grateful that James made the choko soup that night! It was perfectly delicious, and absolutely perfect for a cold night with a flu coming on!! Yesterday I was very sick (I couldn't even talk. Everything's worse when you can't tell people about it) and was in bed all day, and James stayed home from work to look after me and Maggie (I really didn't want to get her sick too) and I had that soup again, for breakfast lunch and dinner, and it was just what I would have wanted if I could have had anything in the world. Sadly dinner was the last bit of it, and today I've had to suffer through alternative foods, but I think it's what I'll make anytime anyone's sick from now on, it was so good! So the chokos were lovely, thankyou!! If you google 'choko soup recipe', make the Burke's Backyard one. Oh, except we only had 2 chokos and you're meant to use 3, so we used 2 potatoes in lieu of the 3rd. Don't know if this helped our cause.

THankyou James - you have been wonderful!! I promise I will get off the couch and start looking after you again soon. Did I mention that yesterday morning he scrubbed out the kitchen including pulling the fridge out and scrubbing the floors and walls behind, the microwave out, etc., and he cleaned out the study, and vacuumed (yes Ma, I never did get onto it that day lol..). Isn't he wonderful?

What I've Been Making

So a while ago we were visiting with some friends, when E invited me to her 'Stampin' Up' party. She showed me the catalogue and informed me her wishlist was $300 long! Her sister Adele had recently become a demonstrator. I looked through the catalogue and said everything was lovely, and accepted the invitation, but discussed the fact with James on the way home that I was only going to go to be supportive, and was not at all interested in stamps. I've never really liked stamps. I like scrapbooking papers and bits and bobs and I love making cards and small time scrapbooking projects, but stamps aren't my thing.

I went to my friend's party, and fell in love with everything. I didn't buy or order anything that night, or make any commitments, but by the end of the weekend I was asking James if he'd mind if I hosted a party myself. By the end of the day Monday I'd emailed Adele, organised dates with my sisters and planned my very own Stampin Up party. I wanted it ASAP, and managed it a week or so later, in March. At that party, I spent more money than I ever imagined I would have (don't worry - James and I had discussed what I would buy before the night! I had the catalogue glued to my hands for the time between my invitations going out and the night of my party when I wanted to put in my order). I love everything though, and when my package arrived less than a week later, I was super excited. I'm lucky its arrival coincided with Maggie's afternoon nap, so I could spend a couple of hours assembling and trying out my new stamps!!!

I'm not very professional or anything, I just really enjoy being creative in my own little way, and making cards and gifts a little. If we were super rich, I would buy everything in the catalogue, because it's all really nice, and totally more-ish, because everything matches and I want the whole set of everything (similar to a certain line of baby clothes at Myer this season - I want to buy everything or nothing, because all the tops, cardigans, jackets, skirts, dresses, beanies, etc. match adn they're totally cute!! (I went with the 'get nothing' option - more cost effective, and there's always another year when we actually need clothes instead of me just wanting excess because they're cute, but that's for another post (sigh)))!

Anyway, here are a few of the little projects I've done since. I don't spend a whole lot of time doing it, but like I said, I really love it :) I'm always reminded of Elder Uchtdorf's talk on how women need to create... hold on here's a link to the Mormon Message about that. Definitely worth a watch!! :) I love to create anything - not just crafty stuff.

Oh and I should mention that not all of this stuff is 'Stampin' Up' stuff - a lot of it is made up of scrapbooking odds which I've accumulated over the years. Oh, and something else - I LOVE the use of ribbon in Stampin up stuff! Their ribbon is expensive though (well it's not too bad, but you sort of have to buy a lot so I wouldn't have been able to afford more than one colour..) so I found an eBay seller from China who sell grosgrain ribbons really cheap! I bought 60 yards (just under 55m) made up of 14 different colours for $2, plus $5 postage and they came adn they are beautiful and I love them.

Most of these are just simple. If you follow the link to Adele's website you can see how the projects can really be beautiful! :)

I based this card on one James' Nana made when Maggie was born, it was very cute! You pull the tab on the left (except sorry the picture's the wrong way around :() and it sort of unfolds as you might be able to see in the picture below..

Sorry I don't know why these are on their side!! The one at the top (meant to be left) is one Lisa or Adele made, so I used the pattern for the other 3 for our Visiting Teaching sisters.

For my new nephew. A friend of ours sent a present up for Maggie when she was born, and they wrapped it in a baby wrap. Very thoughtful and very useful!! I loved the idea:

This is like a little 'pack' of cards I gave to my sister to go away with - she asked for some 'thankyou' cards to give out:

This is the card Adele & Lisa taught everyone to make at my stampin up party:

A baby card (it doesn't belong to a baby yet - I just wanted to try the cute pram idea James' Aunty Gillies did on a card for us. I think you can sort of see where I've written 'name' in pencil for when I go to use it :))

A few randoms: Oh - the ribbon I did on the very bottom one (again, sorry I can't get things to turn around the right way!:S), I got the idea from Adele again. I ironed it so it would sort of go one way, but I don't think you're necessarily meant to...

This is a 'thankyou' for Dad - he and Mum bought me a packet of cute novelty buttons they saw for my projects :)

Cute little saying:

I love ribbons...

The other day I was reading a book I've borrowed from a friend, and I didn't want to fold her pages so I made a bookmark :)

A '3D project'. Lisa makes a bunch of these on her and Adele's blog (if you follow the link 'Adele' near the top). The sides of the lid were meant to come down longer but I messed up.

And those are some of the projects I've had fun making lately :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making use of the 17 Bananas in our Package

To the banana muffins I added choc chips, to the two long trays on the right I added chopped walnuts, and the two small trays are normal banana cake. It is a good freezer lunch item. James eats a lot though, so it's already almost gone. I wonder if next week's package will involve as many bananas.

I've made 4 massive trays of baked potato pieces (like the ones Dad does with pumpkin too) so far - James eats them as snacks and on sandwiches with BBQ sauce (totally not the way they were intended to be eaten when I made them). I thought of how proud Grandma Taylor would be of me using sea salt in those :)

Tonight I'm making potato bake and choko soup for dinner. I'm learning to be resourceful with the random assortment of foods we've been blessed with. I've been making all our dinners this week with cream-based sauces, due to the million creams lol :) This is kind of fun.

My parents and all my siblings + the niece and nephew have been very ill with a stomach bug this week. I'm giving myself 2 more days before I'm in the clear (I was hanging out with them lots, and it seems highly contageous :S), but I am feeling blessed that none of us here in the little Easthope household have it at least yet, although I feel a possibly vicious cold coming on :S. I hope everyone feels better soon!! xo

Friday, May 14, 2010

$20 Groceries!

Recently Jillina has been inspiring me to be thinking smart about money with her 'You're Nifty if You're Thrifty' posts. Mum's told me that the local PCYC gives out food parcels for $20 with food they're given, to raise money. I finally took her advice and called last week, and found out they've moved. I called and got the details, and yesterday I finally went. Here's what I got:

I am sooo in love with this place!! The size of the picture doesn't do the food justice - click on it and blow it up lol. First I went around and looked at all the food you can buy individually. The massive can of pineapple pieces you can see back right was $2 - for 3kgs!! I got 2 of them. The smaller cans (which are usually the 'big' cans - 850g) are 6 for $4, when they're usually $4-ish each at the shops!!! Great for food storage!! They also had massive beetroot tins, cheap yummy icecream (cookies & cream), frozen lasanges, and a bunch more. Oh and they sell clothes and stuff too - there's an op shop section.

I got some cans and the bottle of juice, then when I was at the counter a lady came and asked me if I'd like to look at the $20 food parcels. I said okay, and she showed me, and aside from most of the cans and 1 of the bottles of juice, that's what I got for $20!!! You can't even see all the fruit and veg in the box but there's HEAPS - this morning I'm making about 5 batches of banana cake to freeze, because we got about a kazillion bananas, and a million potatoes (oh - you can get as many potatoes as you want, for free! - there's a massive bucket out front!) plus lettuce, onions, something green I keep forgetting the name of but Mum said to just steam it, apples, etc. Then there's the cold stuff - the margarines and cream and yoghurt (you can't see them all, but we got a box of 10 yoghurts), plus extras, chips, noodles, lamingtons, biscuits, juice, pantry items like coconut, stock cubes, ricebubbles, oats, salad dressings, simmer sauces, oh, a cheese platter (yum, and usually $10 all on its own in the shops!), garlic bread, even some Betty Baxter meal replacements and moisturiser samples lol. You don't get to choose what you get, but if you're happy to be flexible, it's very worth it! What they have changes every week depending on what they get.

The place is run by a local church, and it's not just for people who are desperate. They are given the food, and are making money off it to give to the church or whatever, so they're happy for anyone to go!

If you're a local and you're interested in the address, ph # and opening hours let me know. I will be going every week :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

3 Years of Dating :)

On Thursday it was James and my 3 year anniversary of 'dating' :) We started dating on a Sunday evening after a cottage evening. He asked if I would go on a date with him. I said 'yes'. Then he said he would like to 'date' me, and I said I would too, so we decided to 'date'. And then we got married 6 months later :)
Thursday morning I was very tired, and after I'd fed Maggie we went back to sleep, and I didn't even realise at the time, but Maggie woke up so James woke up with her, and then they came back and woke me up when she was hungry, and James gave me this:

Cute card that he made, huh? :) And he bought me a Bunnykins book - I love children's books, and I love Peter Rabbit & friends, I was very happy, it's very cute and sweet :)

For dinner we had Fasta Pasta (I love it... and I didn't want to cook... and I didn't want James to cook... and I wanted to eat immediately...). We got it take out, and ate it on the couch with a movie, because I was tired. It was nice :) Especially cause James had been stuck in uni assignemnt-ville, and it was nice to hang out without doing uni work! Maggie hasn't been so well, and was having trouble sleeping so we had her out in her bouncinette with us, and we cuddled her lots too! You can sort of see her in one of the photos :) (Please ignore the washing basket and the ugly couches, sigh)

I am super-glad James asked me out :) xoxoxox

I made Chicken Soup!!!

So chicken thighs were on a great sale the other week and Mum mentioned that they make quite a tasty chicken soup. I LOVE my mum's chicken soup, (actually, if you look to last year's Mother's Day post you'll see that Mum made some for me - it's the best thing in the world for if you're feeling sniffly) and I was super excited to try to cook it! Unfortunately I planned my big adventure the same night we got asked over to a friend's for a movie night. James had to work till 7:30, so I figured I'd cook it and we'd eat quickly and rush over. Sadly it (like all of my cooking!) took much longer than excpected!! The kitchen was a pigsty which I hate (I love having everything look lovely while I blissfully cook away lol), but the soup was great. I added a bit of extra cream because James LOVES cream, and when I tasted Mum's the next week I realised I don't like mine as much, but it was okay. Also, I had a bit of a stock mix up with the dumplings. Oh yes - Mum used to make dumplings with it and the recipe was with the soup in the family cookbook, so I gave them a go too. They would have been better if I hadn't overdosed them with stock lol.

Here is our pigsty of a kitchen when I was done. Ew! And we were super-late to go to our friend's place so I left the mess till after, double ew!!! How I love a clean kitchen!

The soup looks kinda yuck. But it was kinda yum :)