Monthly Archives: October 2012

Youngster’s Reading Seat


I finally got around to making the reading seat for my little boy.

As I have talked about before, I had his toys in two Ikea Trofast units.  We used to have them in the playroom in this configuration. You can read about our playroom here and here.

I recently moved them to his bedroom and decided to switch them around so that they joined as a little seat in the middle.  Underneath the seat I have stored some of his most loved story books, with the idea he could curl up on the seat and read once I made it more comfortable. You can read about how I store kid’s books here

To make the seat, I purchased a piece of mdf and foam and cut them to the seat size.


I glued these two together before using a staple gun to attach my chosen material over the foam and to the mdf base.

I made sure the measurements of the mdf and foam were spot on so that it fit snuggly into place without having to be further attached.

To make the seat extra inviting, I intend on adding throw cushions to the seat.  For the moment I have just got the one.

As part of Master O’s birthday present next month, I am redecorating his room in a dinosaur theme.  My boy just LOVES dinosaurs.  This is the only cushion that doesn’t give away the surprise too much.

I can’t wait for him to start using this great little seat.

Banana and Blueberry Muffins – Freezer Friendly


A while back I posted a recipe for White Chocolate and Cranberry Muffins.  My son has loved taking these to daycare, but after a year, the novelty has worn off.

Today, looking at the bunch of bananas on the bench, browning faster than we are eating them, I knew I had to instead make some banana muffins.    This recipe, originally from,  adds blueberries – gotta love a superfood, oats and yoghurt to make the muffin nice and moist. Yum!

Banana and Blueberry Muffins


  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200g tub natural yoghurt
  • 80g polyunsaturated margarine, melted, cooled
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 medium green apple, peeled, grated
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries


  • Preheat oven to 190°C/170°C fan-forced. Line twelve 1/3 cup-capacity non-stick muffin holes with large paper cases.
  • Sift flour and cinnamon into a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup rolled oats. Make a well in the centre.
  • Add eggs, yoghurt, margarine, banana, apple and honey. Stir to just combine. Fold in blueberries.
  • Divide mixture between the paper cases and sprinkle tops with remaining rolled oats.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
  • Cool muffins on a wire rack.

These freeze really well so they are perfect for school lunches.  Just pop them in a ziplock freezer bag and store for up to 3 months.

Not So Scary Spider Cupcakes


We are gearing up for Halloween in the Crooked House.  It is not a huge affair here in Australia, but we are lucky to have a nearby Halloween Street Party and most shops stock a reasonable selection of Halloween goodies.

The other night I decorated the entrances to the boy’s bedrooms with skeletons, pumpkins and bats while they were sleeping.  I was woken the following morning by my 3-year-old gasping, “Oh, I love that, Mummy!”  I was aiming for not too scary, so I think I got the right mix of gore and whimsy.

Yesterday, my son convinced me to make some Halloween inspired cupcakes.  He asked for eyeball toppers but I thought I would try something less scary.

After icing the cupcakes we took some Smarties (or you could use chocolate beanies, buttons or MMs) and placed them on the top.  Using a packet of store-bought icing tubes, I iced each Smartie a set of spider legs.

They were a huge hit with my son.   “They are so cute,” he exclaimed.

If you have more patience than I did yesterday,  you could first ice a spider’s web on the top then add Smartie spiders.

It coffee o’clock here so I’m off to gobble up some spiders now. Mmmmm







Cheat’s Poached Eggs


Hubby kindly offered to cook me breakfast on Sunday morning .  When my reply to, “What do you feel like?” was, “Something with poached eggs,” you could see the terror in his eyes.  “I don’t know how to poach eggs,” he finally said.

Not willing to admit that I have had little success with poaching eggs myself, I suggested we together try the cheat’s method I saw on one of Jamie Oliver’s shows.  It is super easy, so if you need a bit of a helping hand, give it a try.

Grab a tea cup and a length of cling film.  Push the cling film into the cup.  Give the film a little spray with oil and crack your egg into the lined cup.

Gather up the ends of the cling film, twist a few times and tie a knot if you wish, just above your egg.  Be careful with your package as you don’t want to break the egg yolk.


Submerge the egg package in boiling water and cook for 4 minutes, maybe a tad longer if the eggs were cold from the fridge.

Don’t get pre-occupied with the kids, like we did, as the yolks won’t be runny.

Carefully snip off the cling film and serve

So here is our cheat’s poached eggs sitting atop of ciabatta, sautéed mushrooms and grilled haloumi.


Safer All-Purpose Cleaner


I am quite allergic to all sorts of cleaners.  In a bid to find some safer cleaning alternatives,  I have been making some of my own cleaning solutions.  You can read about the first one I tried, Miracle Shower Cleaner here.

As an all-purpose  cleaner, I have been using  The Organised Housewife’s  concoction.  I am finding it really good.   It is easy to make and costs next to nothing.  I recommend giving it a go….

All-Purpose Cleaner


  • 2L jug
  • spray bottle
  • 4 cups hot water
  • ½ cup detergent
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 4 tsp borax
  1. Place hot water, detergent, vinegar and borax into jug, mix to combine
  2. Fill the jug to the top with water (room temp), stir
  3. Pour into spray bottle

I use this spray in the kitchen and as an all round surface cleaner throughout the house.  I have read that some people even use it to clean spots on the carpet (but make sure that your detergent doesn’t have a colour added to it).  You could also add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to give it a nice scent or antibacterial property.

Happy cleaning.

Macaron Success


I love macarons.  Really, what is not to love?  These  chewy, little biscuits taste every bit as scrumptious as they look.

My infatuation started after the MasterChef series when Adriano Zumbo, the rock star of patissiers in Australia, produced the Macaron tower.

Photo: Adelaide Now

A little while back I had my first attempt at baking these deceptively tricky morsels.  I read up on techniques before I started and with more care than I have ever shown any recipe in my life, I popped my little babies in to cook.   As I anxiously pulled the biscuits from the oven, I was terribly disappointed.  Many of my biscuits didn’t develop nice ‘feet’ as they call them.  They tasted divine but just didn’t look the part.

My mission was to perfect the recipe before my children’s birthday party next month, so they could be served on the dessert table.  Well, I am so time poor at the moment that  the likelihood of that happening is zilch. If I wanted to serve macarons, I had to find another way.  The solution – packet mix.

As I walked past the clearance table at my local grocery store, a Donna Hay Macaron packet mix, literally, jumped out at me.  As the store was to no longer stock her baking range, all her packet mixes were half price.  I couldn’t resist buying a few for the party and a ‘test’ box.

I baked the test batch last night and they turned out looking great!  Today we enjoyed taste testing them for morning tea.  Again they did not disappoint.  Delicious and very un-packet like.

I see Zumbo has also released his own macaron packet mix range.  I will most certainly have to try his salted caramel ones.  I see more taste testing to come. Yum!





Outdoor Wall Art – Frame Collage


It’s no secret that I love a good collage.  They are scattered all about my house.


It is no surprise then,  that when I gave my alcove area a bit of a makeover (you can read about it here and here), I incorporated another collage.

After making a nice area to sit, the area was already so much nicer to look out at, not to mention, use.

But I wanted to add something more interesting to look at on the fence.

I had potted our massive agave plant into a terrazzo pot that had once had another life as a water feature in the same alcove.  I had put this up  by the fence line and loved the green leaves.

Wanting to inject some more gorgeous green into the view, I gathered a collection of old frames.  A good spray paint and a lot of nails later……


my outdoor collage was complete.

I’m loving my new green outlook from indoors. Much better than the plain old fence.


Miracle Shower Cleaner


You might have seen this recipe making the rounds on Pinterest and your favourite blogs.  Like me you might have wondered whether it was as good as everyone said it was.  I decided to stop wondering and to give it a go and I must tell you it is worth the hype.

Here in the Crooked Household I have tried in recent years to avoid heavy chemical cleaners.  I spent up big on Enjo products some time back and I love them, especially my bathroom miracle and glove.  The problem is you must keep up the cleaning routine to stay on top of the nasty soap scum.  So, if I slipped into lazy mode, I would have to turn to the chemical ‘Big Guns’ to return the shower to some respectable state.

This recipe, while not chemical free is much better than most shower cleaners.  I don’t feel I have to freak out if the littlies happen to stumble into the bathroom while I am cleaning the shower.

Miracle Shower Cleaner.

1. Heat 1 cup of white vinegar in the microwave or on the stove top until hot.

2. Using a Funnel pour it into a spray bottle and add 1 cup of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid.

3. Shake to incorporate the dishwashing liquid.

To Use

Spray onto bathroom surfaces such as tiles, glass shower screens and faucets.  Leave to sit (up to a few hours even) and rinse off.  You can give stubborn areas a wipe with a cloth to help remove deposits if needed.  Make sure you are careful when rinsing off, especially if you have been generous with your application, the floor can get slippery.

For those of you living in Australia, it can be hard to find Dawn dishwashing liquid.  I have heard it is in selected Woolworths and IGA stores.  I have used Morning Fresh Ultra dishwashing liquid with good results.

I’m off to do my shower now so there is one less job to do this weekend.  We are at the slippery end of the year and my weeks, but especially my weekends, are getting busy.  Have a great weekend All.

Super Organised Menu Planner


I generally like to keep a menu planner for our household.  It has been invaluable in helping to channel my enthusiasm for trying out recipes in my new thermomix.  I was using my DIY Fridge File to write down our meals for the week and all was going well….until……organisational envy hit.

I must admit I have fallen in love with the ‘idea’ of these super organised menu planners from RobbyGurl’s Creations and The Homes I Have Made:


Setting something like that up takes some serious time and organisation.  I don’t really have the time to invest in creating one of these, especially if I don’t end up using and loving it.

After a bit of internet surfing and a trip to Ikea I decided on a partial implementation of this system.  I wanted to stick my toe into the water, so to speak, to see if this would be for me.

Ikea now have these magnetic whiteboards.  They costs just a few dollars and it  is divided into 7 sections.

I printed the days of the week onto a blank magnetic sheet I found at a dollar store.  I also printed some little magnets with codes for our side dishes such as potato, rice, pasta etc.

I cut up a few sheets of cardboard into strips to allow me to write down meals and its corresponding  recipe book/pinterest reference.  You can read about my recipe organisation here.

Here is the board hanging on the inside of my pantry door.


As time goes on I am building up my stock of recipe cards and getting a feel for whether this type of menu planning suits me.  If it does suit me, I can spend the time to make this a grander operation.  For the moment though, it has only cost a few dollar and a few minutes to implement the ‘no frills’ version of the system.

Children’s Weekly Planner


I think Master O is a planner.  He always wants to know what everyone’s plans are.  Not a day goes by when he does not ask, “What are we going to do when we wake up in the morning?”

I thought it would be good to create a simple visual planner for his room so that he always knows the answer to his favourite question.

I created a simple weekly calendar in Word and framed it in a Nyttja frame from Ikea.  I also printed pictures of  the activities we do most often, laminated them and cut them into discs.

Using velcro dots I created a way for the activities to be moved around and for discs to pop out nicely from the calendar.

I have attached this frame to the backside of his door and hung the excess activity discs in a little bag attached to his door handle.

At the start of each week we have fun discussing the days of the week and putting up our regular activities like music lessons and daycare on the board.  We then schedule important activities like grocery shopping and appointments for the week.  I then have been negotiating the placement of activities of Master O’s choice, like visiting family or playing in the park.

The whole process has been really positive and I wish I had put together a planner for him sooner.