It's The Little Things


Like sitting with a hot coffee while looking out our back windows
Watching the three children play together and help one another
Birthday cakes
Birds on the neighbours roof whistling tunes
Seeing the dog sprawled on the lawn, snoozing in the sun
Picking the boys up from the bus stop
Listening to them practise their music
Friday 'Pizza and Movie Night' on the couch
Watching the children run around the yard, jumping on the trampoline
Summer evenings at the beach
Checking on them sleeping before hopping into bed
Warm baths on Winter nights
The dinner conversations
The first day of Spring
Hearing my girl singing in bed
Their hands in mine
Cuddles and kisses
How my husband feels like home



Bushwalks Around Our Home

One of our favourite things to do as a family is to find new places to explore, that aren't too far from home.
Bushwalking is so great for the kids, navigating through the tracks, negotiating steep steps and giant boulders.
There are rarely complaints or arguments (other than who gets to be in the lead) and they are getting exercise in the great outdoors.
As we walk I also find it to be a great opportunity to have conversations with each of my kids. They aren't distracted by screens or toys and generally seem to be open books, chatting away as we stroll along. There are also moments of wildlife spotting and discussions over plants, trees and birds.

My top three walks (so far) around The Central Coast would be:

1) Piles Creek Loop
We were possibly a little ambitious taking a three year old on this hike - because that's what it felt like, a hike! A three hour round trip up and down some pretty steep inclines. But she did it, she walked the whole 4kms, crossing creeks and waterfalls and a pretty cool suspension bridge. There are parts of this walk where the track isn't obvious and it is definite 'bush' walking, so just be prepared and keep that in mind... our shoes got quite muddy and wet.

If you are up that way there is another beautiful walk from the same starting place. It is called the Girakool Loop and it is an easier 2km hike.




2) The Coast Walking Track
The entire track is 3km one way but we cheated and parked our car at Crackneck Lookout which cuts the walk down by 1km or so. This walk is an easy walk on a mostly sandy track. There are quite aa few stairs as you head towards Forresters Beach but they are proper man-made steps with a handrail.
This track has spectacular ocean views and if you are there at the right time of year you may even spot a whale or two!





3) Norah Head Lighthouse Loop
Loop tracks are my favourite as you don't have to turn around and go back the way you came. This loop is 2.5km and is an easy-grade walk. Take a packed lunch to have on the grassy area surrounding the Lighthouse before you continue on the loop back to the car.
You can also go down to Lighthouse Beach and the rock pool but we chose to stay up at the Lighthouse and join the next tour. The view from the top of the lighthouse was fantastic and even the kids seemed to enjoy learning the history of the lighthouse and the boats.




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If you have any family-friendly walks around the coast or Sydney way that you'd recommend, we'd love to hear about them.

Guilt Free Choc Mint Muffins



This recipe is egg and nut free and could be made dairy free if you wanted to omit the choc chips and use almond or soy milk instead of cows milk.

Guilt Free Choc Mint Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup skim or any milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup wholemeal plain flour
  • 1/2 cup choc chips
  • 1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce (I use baby apples)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of peppermint essence (optional...you could try orange or coconut)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a muffin tin with patty cases and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and the vinegar. Put to the side.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together to remove any lumps. Then stir in the choc chips. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, apple sauce, peppermint essence and vanilla. Mix together. Whisk in the milk (which may appear slightly curdled).
  5. Finally, stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. (advoid over whisking as this will make muffins tough). The batter will be quite thin and wet. Divide it evenly between the patty cases.
  6. Bake in oven for about 15-18 minutes. They are done when a skewer comes out clean. 
  7. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

This recipe makes 12 regular sized muffins or 24 mini muffins.


*Whenever I bother to bake, I make double batches. Once they are cool they can be frozen in snap lock bags.

6 Minute Microwave Playdough



6 Minute Microwave Playdough

This is what you'll need:
  • Microwave safe container with lid
  • Spoon
  • Floured board or surface for kneading
  • Airtight conatiner to store playdough in
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup water
  • food dye/colour
  • 1/2 table salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 30ml vegetable oil 


Method:
Add 1 teaspoon of your colour of choice to the 1 cup of water.
In microwave bowl/container, add all the dry ingredients and mix together.
Add water with dye plus the oil and mix until no lumps.

Place container, with lid on, in microwave and set on a low to medium heat for about one minute to begin with. Then stir. Repeat this process until the mixture start sticking tougher like a thick glue. Mine took 4 minutes in total but every microwave will be slightly different.

Tip out onto floured surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour as you go so the dough isn't too sticky.

Once dough is cool you can store it in airtight container in the fridge and it should last up to 3 months if kept reasonably clean. If it is sticky the next time you go to use it, just knead in a little flour.

Things That Matter and Things That Don't


I'll be completely honest here and admit that I care more about what my children are wearing than they do. My boys don't care for neatly combed hair or branded clothing. They couldn't care less what sort of car we drive or what type of milk we drink. They don't place importance on which shop their toys or food come from. They read books from the library and play with hand-me-down toys.

My seven and eight year old children don't see rich and poor, new or old, they don't care what colour skin their friends have or what brand of shoes they wear. It is a really nice perspective to try and maintain.

Steve Jobs, one of the world's wealthiest men wrote this just before he died:

As we grow older, and hence wiser, we slowly realize that wearing a $300 or $30 watch - they both tell the same time...
Whether we carry a $300 or $30 wallet/handbag - the amount of money inside is the same;
Whether we drive a $150,000 car or a $30,000 car, the road and distance is the same, and we get to the same destination.
Whether we drink a bottle of $300 or $10 wine - the hangover is the same;
Whether the house we live in is 300 or 3000 sq ft - loneliness is the same.
You will realize, your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world.
Whether you fly first or economy class, if the plane goes down - you go down with it...



Let us look beyond our material possessions and feel rich by what matters most - family, friends, kindness, relationships, love.