Jul 28, 2015

The Wolfpack. Maggie's Apricot Jam.

I'm officially an Aunty now.   Both my adorable little nephews have arrived safely now and settling in well with their respective parents on both sides of the country.  

I know that we often feel that our health system isn't what it once was and that hospitals seem to be stretched further and further with ever diminishing resources but Australia, you really do come through for the littlest of the little ones.  Every single one of them.  For them, there will always be beds in the special care nursery.  For them, there will always the nurses and equipment necessary to give these little miracles the very best possible start in life. 

www. notonthehightstreet.com

It's not just the skill and compassion of the staff but also the volunteers who do so many 'little' things to make those sometimes daunting first few weeks a little smoother.  I don't think I'll ever be able to look a hand knitted baby beanie straight in the eye again.  Because I'd only get teary recalling just how important those cosy head warmers are during those early weeks in the incubator.

And just like that, my brothers and I have gotten ourselves our very own wolfpack.  With a 28 month age gap among the three cousins, it is our hope that the three boys will grow up as close to each other as brothers.  May it be 'all for one and one for all' no matter what they get up to.  

Arguably one of the best uses of an Ikea Mammut chair ever.

Just call me smug, but I'm still going strong with Dry July.  My stash of Maggie Beer sparkling non alcoholic wine piccolos has been keeping me company during impromptu wine and cheese sessions on the sofa during afternoon nap time.

In fact, I've been such a loud and proud Maggie Beer fan that Maggie's public relations company kindly set me a special delivery last week.

Inside the carefully wrapped parcel was a jar of Maggie's Apricot Jam ($9.95 a jar).  A thick and fruity jam that is best enjoyed 'spread generously onto thick pieces of wholemeal toast with lashings of unsalted butter' as per the label's seductive instructions.

I did my best with what I had on hand - thick slices of (hidden fibre white) toast and lashings of SSG Manor's official butter - salted Lurpak.

Maggie's jam is perfection.  It's not one of those 'chunks of fruit' thick jams but rather a slow, oozing kind of thick one.  It has the perfect taste of nothing but fresh apricots (from Maggie's orchard in the Barossa) and yes, more is more when it comes to eating this on toast.  Maggie reckons its the best batch of apricot jam to come from her fruit so far and she's not wrong.  I also love its golden orange colour, it's like a burst of much needed sunshine at this time of the year.

Maggie's entire range of products is available online through her website as well as at a list of select retailers, some of which are listed on the website too.

And with that, I'm off out into the sun.

Take care and have a lovely day too!

Thank you to the team at Maggie Beer for their support of my blog by providing their jam for my review.

Jul 26, 2015

Beautiful Sunsets. Kmart's Cake Tins.

Haven't the sunsets been amazing lately?

Even when it has been raining, the sky clears to a dramatic slash of rosy gold against dark grey clouds.  It was all enough to almost make me wish I was stuck in the Friday evening peak hour just a little longer so that I could look up at those colours a little more.


Not that I'm complaining about the weekend weather.  Can't you just feel spring in the air already?  Toddler SSG's been proactive in helping me embrace the change by telling me to wear my black shoes and not my brown ones.  We were on our way to breakfast and the golden rule of toddler club is that if you're hungry and in need of coffee yourself, you wear those black Nikes and pull together an outfit around it pronto.  Just as well I had those Cotton On skinny track pants at hand.  They're a match made in heaven for a busy Saturday out and about.

Saturdays are dumpling days as far as Toddler SSG is concerned.

I've got the routine down pat.  It takes around 15 minutes for Toddler SSG's standing order of plain pork xiao long bao to be made and steamed.

Which is just enough time for us to navigate the complicated lift arrangements at The Chase to run whatever other errands I need to get done.  Like doing a Kiehl's run and getting some green tea and sushi for my lunch.

This weekend's mum with a pram department store report comes to you from Kmart.  A store I'd previously thought of as a distant forth to Aldi, Target and Big W.  I've been a bit slow in realising what the rest of Australia seems to know already - Kmart has really come a long way in the last couple of years.

The Kmart price point seems to be generally lower than Target's but they've still managed to incorporate key homewares trends in their inventory.  I love these cushions which are a steal at $10 and elsewhere there were mason jars and other little bits and pieces that represented budget friendly ways to pick up on the trends you might have found browsing Pinterest or Instagram the night before in that calm post toddler bedtime routine part of the evening.

But what interested me the most and surprised me most was Kmart's range of baking tins and trays.  I was looking for a smallish loaf pan (reason why will follow later in this post) and hadn't had much luck finding one at Coles or Woolies.  It turns out that Kmart has a whole aisle devoted to both metal and silicone baking accessories, most of which cost $5 or less.

Kmart loaf pans - silicone and metal, $5 each.

I bought both the silicone and heavy gauge loaf pans but in hindsight, I think silicone bakeware might be a bit too tricky for me and my 'simple is best' approach to baking.

I put my new heavy gauge loaf pan to the test with this Stroopwafel cake mix from Aldi.  Thank you to a kind blog reader who reminded me that I did in fact need to add extra syrup wafers to the cake mix - before I'd eaten my entire packet of 8 wafers.

In comparison to Australian cake mixes, the Stroopwafel cake goes hard on eggs and butter.  You need 4 eggs and 200g of butter.

Plus 4 syrup wafers cut into 1cm squares.

There are little bits of wafer and syrup already in the mix but the added wafers add texture and prettiness to the cake.

I baked my cake at 140C (fan forced) for close to 90 minutes in a greased and floured loaf pan.

The kitchen smelled of caramel as the cake baked.  Which isn't a bad thing on a sunny winter's afternoon.

Cooling instructions  were very precise.  The tin has to be placed on a baking rack with a tea towel over the loaf for half an hour.

Will you have a look at the loaf pan!

My loaf turned perfectly.  No chunks of cake left in the pan (despite it being such a sweet and syrupy cake) and such an even golden crust too!

Not bad for $5.

The cake is served at room temperature and it's basically the love child of butter cake and waffles.  The cake itself is buttery, dense and very rich.  The syrup and wafers add just enough texture and sweetness.  It reminds me of Indonesian layer cake in terms of its taste.

And on that note, I'm off to enjoy the sun as I put something called Lamb Obsession into my slow cooker for dinner.  Yes, that really is a can of cream of mushroom soup, a packet of French Onion soup mix, mint sauce and Worcestershire sauce in the photo.  I'm intrigued as to how this is going to turn out....

Jul 23, 2015

Teeth. Of Course I Got An Aldi Stroller.

Well, that was a bit dramatic.

My teeth and I.  Still going strong after seeing the dentist the other day.
Sweater - Target, necklace - Lovisa.

About the dentist, I mean.  I get to keep all my teeth!  And they're all sparkly and clean now thanks to my lovely dentist who was ever so calm despite the fact that I had my shoulders up to my ears as he tried to look into my mouth.  Even with the dark safety glasses on and soothing riverside panoramas on continuous loop on the flat screen above the dentist's chair, having someone at such close quarters to your tooth with a sharp, buzzing drill and jets of air isn't the most relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
www. pagedaily.com

It turns out that the symptoms I had were real and were actually due to the toothpaste I've been liberally applying to my teeth in the hope of a super white smile.  Apparently, the bleach in whitening toothpastes make teeth extremely sensitive to temperature.  I've been advised to lay off the Optic White and switch to either normal toothpaste or a formulation for sensitive teeth.

With my dental anxieties resolved, let's see what else I've been up to.

Sweater - Mix apparel, beads - Red Phoenix Emporium.

Monochrome's been big in my work wardrobe.

And my actual wardrobe is 7 pairs of jeans, 2 skirts and 2 dresses emptier.  Unfortunately, my collection of jeans still stretches over much of the bedroom floor.

Instagram and the winter sun gave me highlights as I sat on the veranda yesterday.  I'm a bit tempted to see if the hairdresser could give them to me for keeps.

Assembled Hauck Shopper in stroller mode.

And in my capacity as a sometime mummy blogger, I have a pram review.  You might remember I put a call out a few month back for pram suggestions now that Toddler SSG has outgrown the Bugaboo and is at that stage in his life where he'll probably only tolerate a pram for another year or so.

Thank you for all your suggestions but I put off buying the new pram for so long that I got a bit desperate this week.  Then Aldi put out their Hauck Shopper pram as a special buy for $99 on Wednesday.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Hauck is a German brand and they produce prams for a wide range of price points.  From my research, the Shopper series is widely available in the UK through stores like Tesco and Asda.  It appears to be very popular because of its very competitive pricing, quality at that price and the fact that the UK version is a stroller and car seat set which also comes with a rain cover (the Hauck Shop N Drive Travel System).  I'm linking to the Tesco customer review page for those who may be interested.  The set is also available through Amazon UK.  I'm not sure if it's available anywhere else in Australia besides Aldi.

The pram weighs about 7kg and is suitable for newborns up to toddlers around 15kg in weight.  A little setting up is required but no special equipment is needed.

From the Hauck Shopper manual.  Not really sure what this diagram is trying to tell me.

The instruction manual is typically diagram heavy with minimal wording.  Which makes it all open to wide interpretation (and frustration).  The Aldi pram only version came with the hood and seat already attached so a fair proportion of the manual wasn't relevant to me - thank goodness.

But what about the pram?

First impressions

  • has a solid feel to it despite its relatively light weight
  • looks pretty sleek with sturdy canvas and good cushioning in the seat
  • the stroller is a one piece affair and folds in half for storage

Back of the Hauck Shopper - note the bar style foot break and adjustable back rest.  The shopping basket under the seat even has a back hatch for even easier access.

  • my favourite thing about the pram from a practical point of view is that the break is bar across the back wheels rather than a trigger on the handle or a tricky foot pedal
  • the shopping basket, as befitting a stroller called Shopper, is roomy and easy to access.

The latch to fold down the stroller is just above the Hauck logo.
I thought it would be interesting to do a side by side comparison with the stroller I've been getting by with., the famous Target $25 umbrella stroller.  I've had mine for three months and it's still going strong.  It's light, easy to use and stows away in the boot easily but it does tip over at the drop of a hat.  It also feels 'low' when I push it and there's no shopping basket.  Toddler SSG was also getting a bit squashed in the seat which is the reason I was in a hurry to upgrade.

Side by side - Hauck Shopper ($99) and the Target umbrella stroller ($25).
The Target stroller is noticeably narrower than the Hauck and less cushioned.  The wheels also don't have the same suspension.

From the side, the Target one isn't actually much shorter than the Hauck.  Must be the steering and handles that make it harder work to drive.

I'm a bit lazy and this is as far down as I folded the Hauck stroller.

It definitely takes up more room in the boot than the Target but what you lose in the boot you gain at the shops.  Which is where I took my stroller for its maiden voyage and for the purposes of this review.  When you're called Shopper where else can you go but to the Macquarie Centre at peak pram hour (mid morning on a Thursday)?

The foot break made life so much easier from the moment we entered the centre.  Steering wise, I found the Hauck noticeably lighter to handle and easier to turn than my Target cheapo.  Couldn't feel much difference to the Bugaboo, if I'm to be brutally honest....

Toddler SSG had plenty of room in his seat and was also secure as the stroller has a 5 point harness.  The front bar detaches but Toddler SSG is so used to them from his previous pram that I kept it on.

The all important stroller cup holder on the Hauck performing like a champ on the ground at Macquarie.

Where this stroller comes out way ahead of my Bugaboo is in the all important cup holder department.  The Hauck Shopper has a snap on organizer bar that fits in front of the handle.  It has room for two cups and a central area for a phone or wallet (or both if you're me).  Because of its position across the handle rather than attached to the side like holders have to be on Bugaboos, I could wheel the stroller around without losing my skinny mocha to the ground or more dangerously, to Toddler SSG's head.

With my coffee safe, I could focus my attention on this bit of news on a store awning in the ritzy arcade end of the centre.  We're getting another Sephora, Sydney.  Maybe this will mean that local mail order won't be far away.

It was such pleasant walking and strollering that I had the energy to track down the best sushi in the food court.  In my humble opinion, that accolade goes to Totoro in the main food court.  Well worth paying a little more for fresh and filling generous sushi rolls.

This is how the shopping basket looked at lunch time.  I'm quite impressed that I managed to fit my nappy bag / handbag, a bottle of water, a kilo of psyllium, a kilo of raw sugar and 2 blocks of Aldi limited edition Moser Roth white chocolate.

The net bag on the back of the stroller was from Aldi too.  Handy for putting Toddler SSG's drink bottle and snacks inside for easy access.  This was part of the latest special buy campaign that features $9.99 Bonds wondersuits that sold out like you wouldn't believe.  This was the second Aldi I had to go to in search of the pram bag.  Yes, thought you'd be fascinated to know that too.


  • I'm really happy with the Hauck Shopper as a stroller for a toddler that I'm probably only going to need for a year or so.
  • I think $99 is a fair price to pay for the quality, build and features.
  • It's not a blingy, 'member of the yummy mummy tribe' kind of stroller but when you get to the toddler stage of mothering, you've kind of had your day in the designer pram sun already.  You've seen how things get trashed in the course of daily life survival and have also learned from experience that many less spendy things do the job with much less buyer's remorse than certain other things.
  • With the dollars I've saved in buying this stroller, I'm treating myself to a new bag which I will then hang on the back of the Hauck from Aldi in the manner of a yummy mummy so I guess there's no escape or signs of leopards changing their spots....

  • My only gripe is that the safety strap wasn't securely stitched in like some of the pricier strollers on the market.  It wasn't clear from the manual how you were supposed to attach it to the stroller so I just looped it through the handle.

Have you owned an Aldi stroller yourself?  How did you find yours?


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