This weekend we took advantage of the Labour Day Holiday and went to stay on a farm for a few days. We were joined by another family who have 2 boys aged 7 and 5. It was really nice for Ruby to have Michael and Christopher to play with, even if she found all the noise and general excitement a bit overwhelming sometimes.

‘Prestbury’ is a working cattle farm in the Darling Downs area, 30 minutes West of Toowoomba. The owners, Rob and Sally Mcreath were very welcoming and took time out of their busy days to show us around the farm, we even found a homemade cake waiting for us in the fridge. Unfortunately, they have a cow who had a difficult birth and has been unwell so we were taken to visit her and her calf. The kids were able to pet the calf and feed her a bottle of milk since her mum has lost her milk.

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We watched Rob bringing in a couple of loads of hay for their new Steers, for morning tea. They keep them penned in for a couple of weeks so that any nasty grass seeds they have in their bellies are ‘planted’ in these holding paddocks instead of out on the fields because a portion of their land is also cultivated.

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We were taken on a 4×4 farm tour and the kids got to stand up and hang onto the back of the ute which, on a bumpy farm road was obviously wildly exciting! The farm covers 2500 acres and if you keep an eye out you can spot wallabies, koalas (we didn’t), turtles, wild pigs and masses of birds. We surprised by a mob of wallabies bouncing across the road as we arrived at the farm on our first evening, thankfully they were heading away from us and not straight at our car!

Ute 1

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Sally has 2 alpacas which she let us visit and the kids enjoyed the challenge of trying to feed them a bit of lucerne. They were a bit skittish and can be prone to spitting if they are upset. Thankfully they were well behaved and the children managed to reign in their excitement enough not to run at the poor darlings.

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Rob and Sally have ducks and chickens and we were able to collect the hens eggs each morning for our breakfast. It was lovely being able to take the kids up to the farmhouse and see how many eggs had been laid that morning (instead of just reaching into the fridge). Ruby almost turned inside out when we disturbed a poor hen we hadn’t noticed who then came ‘flying’ at her head screeching her little lungs out. I don’t know who got the bigger fright, Ruby or the little black hen!

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The house we stayed in was the original house that Rob and Sally lived in when they moved to the farm about 19 years ago while they renovated their current farmhouse. There is a queen room, a twin room and 2 singles. A large living room is separated from a dining area by a huge fireplace that would be wonderful in winter. The kitchen leads to a utility room with a washing machine and then on to a second shower and toilet. We enjoyed the big verandah and barbecue which caught the morning sun and led straight onto the enormous lawn which was perfect for the children to play.

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Thankfully, we found a big box of toys that the kids enjoyed playing with during their down time.

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How can I not include this face?

Chrissie

Final goodbyes, the boys before we left.

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It was a very enjoyable stay at ‘Prestbury’ and was made even better by the welcome from Rob and Sally. It was good to get right away from it all (nearest supermarket 20km) and let the kids experience something completely different. I often forget that this is the life that my Mother lived – my maternal grandparents were cattle farmers. I remember wishing as a child that I’d grown up on a farm like my Mother. I’d love to do this again because I think Ruby will enjoy the experience in different ways as she gets older, so, you may see us again Rob and Sally!

If you’d like to check out ‘Prestbury’ the website is www.prestburyfarmstay.com and if you’d like more information you can email Sally Mcreath at info@prestburyfarmstay.com

We share our block of units with another family who have 4 children, a set of twin boys who are 1 year older than Ruby and 2 girls aged 5 & 7. Ruby adores all of them and I think she’d give her left leg to pack her bags and move into their place. Being an only child, there couldn’t be anything more exciting than the chaos and excitement at their house.

Nothing seems to elicit quite the level of delighted squealing as bubbles! Got grumpy kids? Kids driving you crazy? Whinging? Take them outside and blow some bubbles, trust me the mood will change. If nothing else, they will usually run around like maniacs trying to pop all the bubbles and will blow off some steam so they’re at least getting some exercise. Now that Ruby is finally old enough to start blowing bubbles herself without either drinking them or just tipping the mixture upside down, its even more exciting!

I bought a giant bottle of bubbles and some bubble wands for all the kiddies for Christmas at a dollar store and we finally had a chance to use them yesterday.   Here are a few pictures of the resulting fun…

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I whipped up a fresh batch of no-cook play dough today for Ruby with her ‘help’ (which usually makes the job take twice as long but makes it twice as fun!). Thankfully if you use The Imagination Tree’s no-cook recipe, it’s so quick and easy (less than 5 min) that it doesn’t matter if you double your prep time. If you aren’t already adding glycerine to your play dough, do yourself a favour and buy some from a chemist. A few drops at the end of the process really makes it stretch and shine beautifully!

I started adding glitter to my play dough at Christmas for extra holiday sparkle and now I can’t stop! It’s gorgeous! The kiddies love it, I made a couple of batches for play group last week and it was a massive hit.

If you haven’t already, check out the Imagination Tree for all sorts of play ideas, it’s an awesome site.

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My second attempt at a dress was this ruffled polka dot affair using cherry and polka dot fabric.

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If I were to make this dress again I would definitely make it A-line instead of a rectangle and I would make the straps longer so the ruffle is more pronounced. I didn’t follow a pattern, I just borrowed bits and pieces from various free online tutorials to piece it together.

I still need to take pictures of Ruby wearing her new dresses and post them, she looks rather cute!

My next completed item of clothing for Ruby was far more adventurous. I found, and pinned, this lovely tutorial with free pattern for a peasant dress on Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom ages ago and finally got around to using it a couple of weeks ago.

The tutorial is easy to follow and simple even for a beginner. I added a strip of bias binding near the bottom and made a double bow using this tutorial.

My girl loves anything pink, add butterflies & bows and she’s sold! Its funny that she’s otherwise so at home knee deep in mud…

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first skirt first skirt 2

Yeah its a really simple skirt, but I finished it! It only took about 45 minutes and I made it while R napped one afternoon.

I used Dana’s wonderfully simple tutorial which made it really easy.

This Christmas I used the same pattern to make gingham skirts for our neighbour’s two girls aged 5 & 7. I added a ruffle along the bottom and a flower embellishment to each (made from an old pair of jeans) with a button centre. I love the way they turned out!

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As I’ve mentioned before, I have an extremely talented mother, especially when it comes to sewing. She tried to get me involved as a kid and even bought me a sewing machine. Unfortunately, I was a complete tomboy and didn’t show much interest.

Over the years as an adult I’ve tried to teach myself to sew with limited success which I’ve come to realise has at least in part been due to bad tools. For a long time I was trying to sew with an ancient second hand machine that insisted on swallowing my fabric and knotting up my thread. No wonder I found it so frustrating and couldn’t finish a project!

Last year I bought a new machine and really started to apply myself to learning to do things properly. I began with some trial and error, supplemented with expert tuition (long distance hand-holding): Skype calls to my mommy in South Africa when things went wrong. What a relief to have a machine that didn’t gobble up all my fabric!

In the past, I found it so discouraging being unable to finish a project but now that I’m able to produce something cute that puts a smile on my little girl’s face, its actually quite addictive!

I’ll post some of my recent projects shortly, watch this space…

 

 

This recipe makes delicious, chewy centered chocolate chip cookies that R absolutely loved. They definitely satisfy the chocolate craving but have a few healthy goodies in them to counteract the naughty stuff…

Dry ingredients

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • Up to 2 tbs raw sugar

Wet ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • (optional) 1/4 cup LSA mix (ground linseeds, sunflower seeds & almonds)
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • Extra milk as needed

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Mix dry ingredients together and then add wet ingredients. Add spoonfuls of dough to greased or lined cookie sheets leaving space for the cookies to spread as they rise quite a bit. Bake for approximately 15 – 20 minutes or until lightly golden and the cookies are firm to the touch. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 min and then transfer to a wire rack. Avoid eating them all in one sitting and make sure they are stored out of your toddler’s reach (mine stole quite a few while I wasn’t looking). Enjoy!

So, I’ve neglected my blog. What started out as a perfectly understandable short break while we moved interstate and then took a long trip back to South Africa turned into almost a year long ‘holiday’ from updates.

It took a long time to settle into our new routine in Brisbane and by the time we did I’d fallen out of the habit of thinking about updating the blog. As the months passed, it got harder and harder to get back into it.

Well, finally I’m going to bite the bullet (again) and post something since I’d like to put up a new recipe…

What a weird summer we are having in Sydney. Its been the coolest, wettest summer in decades. The hot days have been few and far between. While I don’t love winter, I love the really hot days even less but after a long wishy-washy, rainy spring and summer, it was nice to have a couple of hot days this weekend.
I found this recipe on Toys in the dryer for ridiculously easy DIY fudge pops (ice-lollies or ice blocks depending which continent you live on). I don’t mind little R having an ice cream every now and then but I find that the store bought ones are too big and have too many ingredients that I can’t pronounce in them. This idea simply uses a store bought instant chocolate pudding which is then frozen in individual ice lolly containers. I have cute little Tupperware moulds that are just the right size for little tummies. The chocolate pudding that I bought was fairly low in sugar and I recognised all the ingredients, so although not my first choice I gave it a go. The pudding whipped up in less than 2 minutes and the whole job took less than 5.

Here are some pics of little R getting a go at cleaning out the bowl (a rare treat since I won’t let her near a bowl that has had raw eggs in it):

A couple of hours later after lunch and our playdough adventures they were ready to go.

Little R loved hers, here are some pictures of the resulting delicious messiness:

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