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… And just like that, it was over!

As summer draws to a close I am reflecting over these past few months… We started out in a very unorganized way, we have had very little BBQ’s this year… Really not like us, we haven’t sat out all evening drinking a chatting, again very unlike us, and I personally have just felt tired and drained… Now I can’t even blame Tate for lack of sleep as he is such a good baby… I just really feel there is something lacking about this summer… And now it’s almost Fall!

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I think my lack of energy is because I need to find a direction and. stick to it, I feel like sometimes, I just wander aimlessly around, but these past few years have been tough for our family, due to a series of events, life just seems hard in every direction… So I’m trying to find some positive vibes in each and every day, because despite everything we are a close, loving family and that means everything in life… Well that and a glass of wine, of course!

The one thing I will remember this summer for, is our pool days with our very kind friends, this year there have been a lot of fun wet days spent in their pool, and for that I am truly grateful to them… Florence’s confidence in the water has improved so much, her love for swimming has increased so much over the summer months, each pool day has seen her grow into a happy diver, swimmer, racer and her smile each time she jumps into that water is magical!

This was Tate’s first summer pool experience, although he was dubious at first I think his confidence has grown too… We even got a couple of smiles from him as he kicked his little legs, splashing away!

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This is also the summer we discovered that Florrie loves sand, the Cake Boss shop, movies in the park and Twix Bites… Now we are all totally addicted! Mabel has become a very competent swimmer and Blu has actually left his Xbox and his room and sat with us for long periods of time… We even got him to chat a little… Now that is crazy!

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Summer also saw Mabel hanging out with her friends more, movie dates, swim dates and of course shopping trips to the Mall, this was also the summer that she became a teenager and went to her first concert, which she absolutely loved!

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We have been to the beach a total of three times this summer, and I have decided that beach days out of season are the best… The long drive sat in traffic, the high costs to park your car and then the charges to get onto a extremely busy beach in the height of summer are far outweighed by our after Labor Day beach trip… The drive was easy, parking was not only easy but very cheap, 4 hours on the beach plus one hour having ice cream equalled $5 prime position parking versus $15 for a dusty long walk parking place in the height of summer. The weather was fabulous yesterday 93f, the beach was free and much quieter than it was a few weeks ago… My thoughts are summer may be almost over but I can see a few Fall beach days in our future… Maybe!

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Well school has already started for my older children, universities/colleges are back, but tomorrow truly signifies the end of summer for me… Blu heads back to High School as a Sophomore and Mabel starts her final year in the Middle School as a newly fledged teenager, I’m starting this semester with a new project, homeschooling a three year old… But that’s a story for another day!

Good luck to everyone for this new school year and to all us parents with the love and support each of our children need!

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Allergies and a pain in the neck!

Having a baby with allergies is proving a challenge…but a challenge this mommy is willing to take on! We visited a gastric pediatric doctor recently as there were concerns about Tate’s liver and his bilirubin levels… Thankfully his liver seems fine, but he does have a jaundice that is linked to breastfeeding, no big deal, or so I thought, but after several repeat blood tests we are now going to have several more tests done in the coming weeks… hopefully in time his bilirubin levels will drop as he begins to eat solid foods and less breast milk… What also came out of this visit though was his milk allergy, she took one look at his mucus poohy diaper and told me that he most definitely had a milk allergy, she explained how my reducing or eliminating milk proteins from my diet would help my baby if he was fussy, so after many sleepless nights I thought it would be worth a try and it worked… A solid 6 hours of sleep… BLISS!

It was lovely getting some sleep, well that was until Memorial Day Monday when we sat Tate in the shade on a friends deck whilst we had a swim, after a nap I noticed how snuffly he was, as the day went on he seemed to struggle with breathing slightly, this had happened the previous week too when we had done the same thing, there was a lot of pollen everywhere so it leads me to think there may be a link. It has taken several days of very limited outdoor exposure but Tate is definitely less snuffy, for the past two nights he has slept a full 6-7 hours before waking and he seems much more content!

After a week of being very careful with the dairy in my diet and limited pollen exposure I have a beautiful happy baby… Fingers crossed it continues, but who knows, each day is very different with a newborn baby!

Having a young baby means organization is important, so now that my Mum has gone home and salad season is upon us, I am implementing a new healthy eating campaign in our house and to do that I need a system of chopping all fruit and veggies when I get home from grocery shopping, that way salads and smoothies are so quick and easy, with a young baby and a three year old in the house who knows how much time I will have available for meal prep from day to day, and after some of the articles I have read recently eating cleanly and healthily, real food is important because who knows what secret ingredients lie in processed every day foods we buy from the grocery store!

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Kitchen prep has been a life saver this week, I woke up on Wednesday morning with an extremely painful neck, after a doctors appointment yesterday it appears to be a swollen disc that is pinching a nerve… Great, the doctor says it can take anything from one week to several weeks to heal! All my well thought ahead chopped fruit and veggies have meant that we still can eat healthily without doing too much! Lean green smoothies for breakfast are proving to be a healthy favorite for Florence, with hidden ingredients like carrots and spinach, she actually asks for a smoothie every morning! We have been having salad with everything this week, lots of healthy greens and chopped mushrooms make up a filling salad bowl each day, all completely dairy free and no gluten in sight!

On the subject of gluten, Costco’s are once again proving to be the best place for gluten free products, ranging from cereal for breakfast to burgers for the grill later in the day, all are very reasonably priced and taste delicious! Their huge box of spring mix salad leaves are organic, naturally gluten free and a bargain price for the amount you get! Another great shop for gluten and dairy free products is surprisingly Shop Rite, a large selection of everything dairy free from milk to yogurts to ice cream products, again all were very reasonably priced… I managed to get a large tub of vanilla coconut milk yogurt for adding to a big bowl of strawberries, a vegan mayonnaise and delicious coconut milk ice cream! My dairy free milk of choice this week was rice milk, so far I am liking it, but the true test will be when I add it to my new gluten free organic cereal I purchased from Costco this week!

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A perfect Easter afternoon…

What do you do when your Spring break is cancelled? You pick a day over your three day weekend and go to the beach… The sun is shining, the temperatures are finally above freezing and we have food for a picnic, so we are going in search of a vacation, even if it’s only for one day!

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We had a wonderful time at the beach, it was windy when we got there but after a while the wind calmed down and it was a very pleasant sunny 66f, making it perfect for our April beach day… This is my favorite time of the year to visit the Jersey Shore, it’s not so busy, the water is cold, true, but the sand is clean and usually empty, there are no fees to get onto the beach or to park your cars… And the weather is cooler than summer but just nice to enjoy the the waves crashing in… Perfection!

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Our Easter Saturday Afternoon began with the perfect parking spot, sad I know, but it really made my day! We bought a small picnic of chicken and cheese rolls, a salad and fresh strawberries, we sat on a bench, on the boardwalk overlooking the beach eating our home made lunch, Tate was sleeping in his stroller and Florrie was talking so excitedly about the sand and sea shells! After lunch it was time to hit the sand, and this in my opinion was the BEST part of the day, because my little Florrie for the first time ever walked on the sand and wasn’t scared, in fact she loved it, she went down to the water with her Dad and paddled her feet… It was truly COLD, according to Paul, but they did it anyway, but not for long! Whilst Florrie searched for sea shells, Paul and Mabel kicked a ball around! I sat on the boardwalk with my camera and people watched for a while, my Mum took some photos and we just enjoyed the moment!

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Frozen yogurt and a spot of shopping strolling along the boardwalk shops, perfected our afternoon… Then a leisurely sit in the Corner Cafe drinking coffee and eating more ice cream, chatting and listening to Florrie sing Let it go from the movie Frozen, this made our afternoon purely wonderful!

The moral of this little story is… Whenever you think it’s not quite the right time of year for the beach… Remember anytime is perfect for the beach, the sea, the sand, the boardwalk, all make a perfect day out whatever the weather!

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My dream is to one day live by the beach and spend all year, whatever the weather loving living right there…

Happy Easter!

Product reviews

… My Vitamix!

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I have often stood in Costco and watched the Vitamix demonstration, wow, that is a fabulous blender, so many appliances in one machine… Hot soup, cold sorbets, thick smoothies, milkshakes, pizza dough and so much more! I could never justify the amount of money it cost though, instead I bought several blenders, each one returned because it did not live up to a great blender, I have bought a juicer, which is great but very time consuming making the juice then clean up is even more time consuming, and a food processor which sits unloved on my kitchen side… paul told me long ago to invest in the vitamix, you always pay for what you get, would I buy a cheap mixer instead of my beloved kitchen aid mixer… No, I most certainly would not, I love that machine and use it almost every day, so why is this vitamix any different, so after many hours of reading reviews and watching yet again another Costco roadshow demonstration I bit the bullet, what did I have to lose, with Costco’s fabulous return policy… Take it home and try it, if I don’t love it my money back in full!

So far so good, I have used this machine every day since the weekend, the soups are delicious and hot, if you don’t like smooth soups, save some of your ingredients and pulse at the end of the cycle for texture. I have also made fruit smoothies, this was a little more challenging as I have a freezer full of frozen fruit, I added the ingredients in the order their cookbook stated, but some of my fruit was frozen, I added carrots and kale, two vegetables I had in, switched my vitamix on, but I did have to use the muddler a few times to get my frozen products moving, I also then added a small amount of orange juice just to thin it out slightly, but my overall smoothie was delicious, packed with nutrients and went down well with my little 2 year old, who would never eat carrots or kale… So success, I am loving this vitamix!

I have not tried other features of the vitamix yet, the list is endless, pizza dough, muffins, cake breads, sorbets, ice cream, frozen cocktails… But so far for this season of warming soups I have a huge thumbs up, easy lunch time tomato soup in minutes is always a plus in my book, add a nutritious grilled cheese and avocado sandwich and then any leftovers can be used as a pizza topping later on for hungry children!

My lunchtime super easy tomato soup recipe… Courtesy of the Vitamix!
(Then use as a pizza sauce later… It worked well with no complaints)

1 can of organic chopped tomatoes
1/2 can of organic tomato purée
3/4 cup of vegetable stock/broth
1/2 chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste
A small handful of fresh basil leaves sliced

Place the vegetable broth, followed by the tomatoes, purée and then onion into the vitamix set to the soup setting press start and let it run it’s cycle, when finished add salt, pepper and basil leaves, pulse several times… Then serve with whatever you fancy… Hot, yummy and nutritious!

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Birthday Frenzy!

Frozen pizzas, garlic bread sticks, chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream and a glass of red wine all make up a winters Saturday night watching a movie… Priceless, when you just want to relax and forget the events of the past week… Well, that’s how we spent our weekend anyway!

Normally in our house Birthday season does not start until March when Paul kicks off the celebrations, but this year is different as my Mum is staying with us and hers is one of those annoying January Birthdays… Annoying because you just give yourself a huge pat on the back that you have successfully completed Christmas, presents bought, wrapped and opened, food planned, cooked and eaten, children happy and back to school, then BAM, it starts all over again, but this time you have to switch into Birthday mode… This is something I am just not used to and it threw me for a loop!

So my Mum’s Birthday started with a relaxing cup of coffee in bed, then some housework and preparation for the rest of the day… Table laid, cake frosting made and cream whipped! Lewis then cooked my Mum a Birthday Brunch, bacon, scrambled egg and crispy toast… All very delicious! We then chilled out for a while with coffee in the kitchen then it was time to kick off the real celebrations with a glass of wine at our local brew pub down by a very snowy, icy Lake Mohawk!

There is an article in my latest Food network magazine, a Birthday cake for each month of the year, January’s cake was a delicious vanilla cake, so Mabel and I decided that this would be the cake we were going to make my Mum. The ingredients in the sponge were not a conventional equal parts fat to sugar to flour, in fact the cake had considerably less sugar to fat and flour, it also had a large amount of milk/cream and eggs, but I do have to say this was one of the nicest cakes I have tasted, it had a slightly less sweet taste that worked really well with the incredibly buttery vanilla frosting, it was more like a shortbread consistency that really worked well with the whipped cream and strawberries I added to the recipe!

Well my three eldest boys are heading to the Jersey Shore this afternoon… Atlantic City here they come! It will be interesting to see how they have coped since Hurricane Sandy and how much damage there is down there… I have told them I want lots of photos! They have snagged a huge bargain, probably because no one wants to go down there in January, the hotel room for the three of them is only $47 with fees and that is to stay in one of Mr Trumps Casino hotels!

With half the house out tonight it is going to be left over night here tonight… We are having lunch at the trendiest new place in Rockaway, Buffalo Wild Wings, I will report back my verdict of the newest sports bar in town… So my thoughts on dinner are LEFTOVERS, always good to clear out the refrigerator at least once a week!

Two more Birthday wishes go out to my nephews this week, well actually last week too… My brother’s youngest son was 7 last Friday and his eldest son is 12 tomorrow… Where does the time go to, 7 and 12 is just getting too old now! Happy Birthday!

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