The reluctant minimalist

With the birth of our newest family member less than ten short weeks away, I find myself exploring ways to de-clutter and organise my home and my life to reduce mess and stress when she arrives. I’m not really a messy person and I am usually quite organised, but I form emotional attachments to things and am reluctant to let them go incase the memory goes with them.

I’ve been reading a bit about minimalism, and while I’m far too sentimental about stuff to practise a minimalist lifestyle, there are elements of the theory that appeal to me. Advocates of minimalism argue that you can benefit from removing clutter, rather than just organising it and this is why:

If you keep clutter and just organise it, you need to re-organise it regularly, which is time consuming.

Reducing clutter frees up your time. Less cleaning, less rummaging, less daily decision making.

Reducing physical clutter reduces mental clutter and visual distraction.

Reducing clutter can save you money by lowering your cost of living. Less stuff is cheaper to organise, clean and store .

Less clutter means more space. Simple as that.

By applying some minimalist principles to my life and reducing clutter in my home I hope to make my daily life easier. I started the process when we moved house about a month ago by culling things that hadn’t been used for a while, or that had no place to live in our new home. I’m now making my way through the house, culling a few things here and there each week and dropping them in the local charity bins. Some things are easily culled like dvds but more sentimental realms like my wardrobe require a softly, softly approach so I only cull a couple of things at a time.

The bulk of the clutter in our home belongs to Little Chop. She has so many books and toys, which I clean up over and over again everyday. At 30 weeks pregnant, this has become a huge drain on my energy. Little Chop is 18 months old now and understands most of what I say, so I’ve started encouraging her to put her own toys away, but she makes much more mess than she cleans up at the moment so it’s a work in progress.

The whole project is a work in progress really, so I’ll let you know how it’s going as we get closer to D day.

Wish me luck!

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The countdown begins

Today I am officially thirty weeks pregnant – let the countdown begin.

Ten thoughts for the ten weeks I have left…

1. I can’t believe how fast pregnancy flies by when you have a very busy toddler to entertain.

2. I’m absolutely exhausted but due to co-sleeping with my 18 month old, killer acid reflux and aching hips, the deep unbroken sleep that I really need at the moment continues to elude me.

3. This pregnancy has been so much easier on my body than my first. I’ve had more energy, put on less weight and have less aches and pains than last time.

4. I feel more confident about parenting a newborn, particularly with regard to breastfeeding. Establishing breastfeeding with Little Chop was really difficult, physically and emotionally – it was extremely painful, she lost too much weight, I became disheartened and unsure of my ability to provide enough milk for her, but I was determined and we successfully breastfed for 16 months. This time I don’t expect it to be easy, but I am sure of my ability.

5. Am I physically and emotionally capable of parenting two children under two? To be honest, I don’t know. I hope so. I know that it will be really hard, I will be sleep deprived, I will feel stretched thin, I won’t have time to myself. But maybe it will be easier because I know these things. I am also very lucky to have family support nearby.

6. I’m so excited to have a newborn in the house again. It will be a different experience to bringing Little Chop home because I had all the time in the world to hold her while she slept and take millions of photos.

7. I can’t wait to introduce Little Chop to her baby sister. She adores babies, and while I’m sure she will be a bit jealous that mummy’s attention has been diverted, she will also be very interested in our new arrival.

8. This is probably the last time I will be pregnant, unless the universe sends us a surprise. We only plan to have two babies, so looks like we’re just about done.

9. I feel guilty about how little time I’ve devoted to concentrating on and documenting this pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Little Chop, I noticed every movement, I read up on her development weekly, I took pictures of my growing belly and videos of kicks and tumbles. This time around, I simply don’t have the time. I also worry that I won’t take as many photos of this baby as I did of Little Chop as a newborn because I won’t have as much time.

10. I plan to do a couple of things differently with this baby. I was always quick to settle Little Chop when she woke up during the night – I will give this baby more opportunities to self-settle. I will vaccinate at eight weeks instead of six because Little Chop had a week long vomiting reaction to her first set of vaccinations, and I don’t want to go through that again. I won’t be using Farex, as I found it to be really constipating for Little Chop so this time we’ll only be offering non-starchy fruit and vegetable purees as first food.

Anyone else expecting their second?

Easy delicious home made mini sausage rolls

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melbournemummy’s home made mini sausage rolls

My baby girl is miserable with croup this week. Fortunately, we’ve been able to manage it at home and haven’t had to make any late night visits to emergency. If your child has had croup, you know it’s just awful – fever, laboured breathing, a barking cough, trouble sleeping plus a runny nose, sore throat and everything else you get with a normal cold. Little Chop hasn’t wanted to do anything much except watch The Wiggles and Alice in Wonderland curled up on Mummy’s lap under a blanket, which suits me fine after three sleepless nights.

Melbourne is cold and blustery at the moment so we’ve been staying home and keeping warm, which is what Little Chop needs at the moment, but it’s sent us a bit stir crazy. We usually head off for a walk late morning, pick up some milk, a decaf for mummy and bagels for lunch, then have a run around at the playground before heading home for a nap. Yesterday, Little Chop had her nap two hours early so I had a little time of my hands, and I was desperately craving a sausage roll from my favourite bakery. I haven’t craved much during this pregnancy except for these sausage rolls, so I decided to have a go at making something similar with what we had in the fridge. They turned out so delicious, I don’t think I’ll be needing to buy them anymore, plus I know exactly what’s in them, which means no processed meat.

For my sausage rolls you’ll need:

500 gms pork & veal mince (if your supermarket butcher doesn’t sell this, you can use 250 gms of pork mince mixed with 250 gms of beef mince)

3 sheets puff pastry

100 gms fruit chutney

1 tblsp dried rosemary

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 tsp salt

note: You don’t have to be exact with these measurements. I didn’t measure anything out, I just threw it all in.

To make:

Preheat your oven to 220C. Prepare a baking tray by lining with baking paper or well-greased foil.

Place the pastry sheets flat on the bench to defrost.

In a large bowl, mix the mince, chutney, rosemary, breadcrumbs and salt with clean hands until well combined.

When your pastry sheets are almost defrosted, you can begin to assemble the sausage rolls.

Slice one sheet of pastry in half horizontally so you have two rectangles. Each rectangle will make a row of sausage rolls.

Take a small handfull of mince and roll it into a sausage shape. Place it lengthways along the middle of one of the rectangles and continue to shape it until it is evenly spread from end to end of the pastry. The mince strip should be about 2.5 cm (1″) round.

From the top, fold the pastry over the mince then gently roll it towards you to close the sausage roll. Trim about half a cm off the ends of the roll, then slice the roll into 4 cm pieces.  Place on the baking tray so that the bit where the pastry folds over is on the bottom.

Repeat this process with each pastry rectangle. You may not get a full roll from the final rectangle so use what mince you have left and trim off the extra pastry.

Gently brush tops with milk.

Place in oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until brown.

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melbournemummy’s home made mini sausage rolls

*As the meat cooks, the juice will come out and pool in the bottom of the tray. Don’t worry. This will evaporate and create a nice caramelisation on the bottom of the sausage rolls.

Makes about 34 mini sausage rolls.

Hint: If you want to make these ahead of time, you can par bake them until light golden then leave to cool. Freeze in bags until needed. Remove from freezer to defrost for 30 minutes while preheating oven. Bake until brown.

Enjoy!

The liebster award

liebster-award

Prior to sinking into the swampy abyss of moving house and the awful, never ending bout of food poisoning that followed, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by that lovely mummy over at Tiptoe Bay. She has an adorable daughter, a furbaby, and enjoys a cheeky glass of wine – don’t we all…not that I’ve had one for a while – so head over to Tiptoe Bay and check her out!

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to recognise new blogs with under 200 followers. Accepting the award involves acknowledging the blog that nominated you, displaying the award logo, answering 11 questions, revealing 11 random facts, nominating 11 fellow bloggers and setting 11 new questions. Phew!

Let’s begin:

  1. What is the worst job you’ve ever had? I’ve been lucky enough to work for our family business for most of my adult life, but I did have a short stint at a cafe called Deli France when I was in high school. I washed a lot of dishes and the boss was a total bitch.
  2. If you could live any where in the world where would it be? I’m lucky to live in Australia – we have a lot of freedom (politically, personally, socially), great weather, excellent health care, fabulous food, and environmental diversity (beaches, plains, snowy mountains, bushland, rain forests and deserts). If I was single and childless, I’d love to live in Europe for a year or two, but Australia is where I want to raise my children.
  3. What is your favourite film? I don’t really have a favourite but I love The Witches of Eastwick, The Devil Wears Prada and Bridesmaids.
  4. What cleaning product could you not live without? Dettol wipes.
  5. Do you have a dream that hasn’t yet been fulfilled and, if so, what is that dream? As an adult, I don’t dream very big, I just want my family to be happy and healthy. As a child I dreamt of becoming an actress and living the hollywood lifestyle – just as well I let that dream slide.
  6. Are you a ‘glass is half full’ or ‘glass is half empty’ kind of person? Both, I’m a hopeful realist!
  7. What are your top 3 albums to listen to on a long car journey? Anything from The Kooks, Maroon 5, or Florence and the Machine, plus some Wiggles for Little Chop.
  8. What would your perfect breakfast be made up of? My perfect breakfast would be a mixture of salty and sweet. I love pancakes with maple syrup so they would have to feature plus some crunchy, buttered sourdough toast with garlic mushrooms and crispy bacon. No eggs – yuck.
  9. Who inspires you? Lots of people inspire me for different reasons. My daughter inspires me to be more social, to get out more, to be silly, spontaneous and have fun.
  10. What would be your ideal date? (location not person!!) I think I would have loved the eighties. I was born in ’84 so I missed most of it. I know it was a daggy time, but the music and fashion were fun and flamboyant. We all take ourselves a bit seriously these days.
  11. If there was only one thing you could take with you to a desert island what would it be? Lip balm.

Now for 11 random facts about me:

When I was 12, I met my then favourite Aussie pop band, Savage Garden, backstage at their concert. I was completely starstruck.

I believe in love at first sight. When I met my partner I knew that we were supposed to be together. He says the same thing about me.

I have a major sweet tooth but not for lollies. I love cake – pancakes, cupcakes, scones, pastries, biscuits. I can’t say no.

I have undergraduate degrees in Arts- Psychology and English Literature and most of a postgraduate diploma in Editing and Publishing.

I love, love, love English comedies. Absolutely Fabulous, The Vicar of Dibley, Extras, Blackadder, Faulty Towers, Jam and Jerusalem – you get the picture. Love them all!

Everything about eggs turns my stomach. I will only eat an egg if I can’t see, smell or taste it, like in a cake.

I’m addicted to jeans and wear them almost everyday. I haven’t counted recently but I’m guessing that between my thin jeans, maternity jeans and post birth jeans I have about fifteen pairs.

I fantasise about tropical holiday destinations. Warm weather, perfect beaches, tropical fruit, cocktails, swimming, lying in the sun with a good book, shorts and sandals. That’s my ultimate holiday.

I’m a cat person.

I love online shopping and receiving packages in the mail. I’m not addicted but I’ll indulge once in a while. It’s much easier shopping while Little Chop is asleep than taking her with me.

I grew up with a younger sister and when we had Little Chop, I hoped that she would also have a sister. In ten weeks or so I will give birth to our second baby girl and our family will be complete.

Now is when I break the rules. Instead of nominating 11 blogs, I’m just going to nominate a few that I like at the moment.

The Three Bears

Figs and Twigs

Sally’s Home Kitchen

Mama Gets Real

And, because I am a time poor mummy and the process of accepting this award is extremely time consuming, I’m going to break the rules again and say, just tell me 11 things about yourselves and answer the 11 questions above if you feel so inclined.

Now I must bring this this post to an end as I have a stuffy, grumbly baby girl who requires my attention.

Until next time.

My tips for feeding a fussy toddler…

…and they don’t involve Tiny Teddies (although they are delicious).

Little Chop & Ted

Little Chop & Ted

Toddlers can be fickle. I know this because I have one – a fickle one.

One week she loves bananas, can’t get enough of them, will eat a whole one without coming up for breath. The following week she’ll take a bite, screw up her nose, toddle over to the rubbish bin and drop the whole thing in.

Food was a big part of my upbringing and I always felt truly loved when my mother prepared my favourite comfort foods, so on occasion my heart has been broken when my daughter has refused to eat the meals I’ve lovingly made for her.

I’ve spent hours cooking delicious food only to be left feeling defeated and frustrated when she’s flatly refused to take just one bite. Tears have been shed more than once.

It’s taken a while but I’ve finally learnt not to take Little Chop’s food fussiness so personally.

Here are some of my tips for feeding a fussy toddler.

1. Don’t push the issue

If your toddler refuses to eat or taste something you’ve made, don’t force them to try it or get frustrated with them. This will only cause stress and negative emotions towards new foods. Stay calm. Put the food in the fridge and try again tomorrow, or freeze it and try again in a week or two.

2. Have a backup plan on hand

Keep something you know they’ll eat in the freezer or pantry as a backup. For Little Chop, I keep pots of home made bolognese, fish fingers and Weet Bix.

3. Build up your recipe collection

The more recipes you know, the more options and back up plans you’ll have for feeding your fussy little food critic. If they refuse to eat the risotto, you can whip up a batch of pikelets in five minutes flat. If they don’t like rice learn some pasta dishes. It can’t make things any worse.

4. Learn what works and adapt it

If your toddler loves rice offer them a variety of rice dishes, e.g. fried rice, risotto, paella etc. Same goes for pasta, beans, bread – learn what it is that they will eat and present it to them in a variety of ways. Little Chop likes a particular combination of finely chopped vegetables so I use that mixture to make her bolognese, stir fry, soup and fried rice.

5. Keep trying

Just because your toddler won’t try something new today doesn’t mean that they won’t try something new tomorrow, so keep offering. Don’t give them the same thing everyday, this will only perpetuate the issue.

6. Keep it simple

You don’t need to be a gourmet chef to make a toddler happy, just keep it simple and tasty. Don’t spend an hour cooking their dinner unless you are cooking it for yourself too. You will feel much worse when something you slaved over gets rejected than something you whipped up in fifteen minutes.

7. Don’t take it personally

You might feel personally rejected when your child refuses to eat what you’ve cooked for them, especially when you associate food with love as I do. Remember this is just a phase – a learning period – and it won’t last forever. Your child loves you just as much regardless of whether you feed them Weet Bix or roast lamb.

8. Offer what your having

Your toddler is more likely to be interested in trying a new food if they see you eating it. For example, tonight I offered Little Chop some pasta with osso bucco in her Bunnykins bowl. She took one bite and wouldn’t eat any more. I made the same thing for my own dinner and she had about ten mouthfulls from my bowl. She wanted to eat it because I was eating it. So, try offering your toddler food from your plate.

I hope that parents of fussy toddlers find something useful in these tips. If you try them out, let me know how you go. Please remember, I’m not an expert, just a mum trying to help other mums and dads who may be struggling with a fickle, food-rejecting toddler.

Good luck!