Tuesday, April 30

Nothing beats homemade chicken and vegetable soup

My rather awesome and totally pinworthy (hint hint)
Chicken and Vegetable Soup
In this house when we start to get sick the first thing we do is eat. Nothing particularly special, just standard good whole foods. Generally lots of fruit like strawberries, oranges, and kiwi fruit are consumed during the day. When it comes to dinner, there is one fail safe that I always turn to and that is my homemade chicken and vegetable soup.

Some days when I make it I go all out and even make my own stock before I make the soup. Other days I cheat and just use a lovely box of pre-made stock. Today I am going to share with you the whole process, including the stock making. (Excited much?)

Chicken & Vegetable Soup
with homemade stock

Ingredients - stock
2kg chicken necks
leaves and tips from 1 bunch of celery
2 carrots
vegetable peelings from soup vegetables
2 onions or 1 leek
4 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf (optional I often don't use them but I know others that love them)

Ingredients - soup
2 turnips
2 swedes
4 carrots (my kids are a bit carrot crazy)
3 garlic cloves
1 celery stick
stock (either homemade or pre bought about 4-6 cups)
2 chicken breasts
optional extras - parsnip, pumpkin, potato, brocoli or any other veg that takes your fancy, pasta/noodles

Method - stock
Place all ingredients in a large pot (preferably with a strainer inside it see photo below, there is probably some technical name for this kind of pot but I don't know it). Veggies only need to be roughly chopped. No need to peel. This includes the onions, though if using leeks still give them a good wash as they are generally full of dirt. 

Just a side note on the vegetable peels. I actually peel all my other vegetables for the soup in advance, cover them with some water and throw the peels in the pot. 

Cover with water and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for a few hours. I like to give mine a bit of a stir and mash every now and then, just to make sure all the goodness of the juices get squished out.
My awesome pot with insert
Perfect for making stock and soup 

If you are like me and have one of these super cool pot inserts, separating the liquid from the other stuff is as easy as eating ice-cream. 

If however you don't, you need to find yourself a super large sieve. 

If you are after a particularly clear stock then you need to find the sieve and a new chux cloth and pour the liquid through the chux lined strainer. 

Not that I have ever actually done this, but I have heard that it is what all the top chefs do when they want to make a liquid clearer. In our house thankfully no one is particularly fussed on how clear their soup is.

Stock with celery and garlic
Method - Soup
Dice all vegetables to about 1-1.5cm square. If you are adding broccoli leave out till 5 minutes before cooking other wise it will just become mush.

Place in pot and cover with stock.

Gently simmer for an hour.

Add finely diced chicken. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so.

If adding noodles or pasta they can either be cooked in the pot with the soup (saves on washing) or cooked separately and added when serving. Just check the cooking times on packet and add to pot that long before you want to serve.

Full of nature's goodness

 It's Tuesday and I have blogged which means I am joining Jess and the gang for IBOT.
You should too!

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Monday, April 29

Do you do doctors?

This morning I put up a Facebook update moaning about the troubles in my day despite it not yet having reached 8.30am. Seriously it was very woe is poor hard done by me kind of post. Which is not really what I like to do because rainbows, sunshine and happiness are more my cup of tea. Plus I am always conscious of the fact that there are people out there with real problems rather.

In case you missed it, and I am sure you did because essentially Facebook hates me and barely shares my posts with anyone, (which is actually a whole separate post of its own) it went a little like this.

Miss Six has had a bit of a cough for days now, perhaps even weeks. My concept of time is not exactly that great. For the most part she seems quite ok. Her energy levels are not really lacking and she will still quite happily play argue interact with her sisters. 

However out of no where she will just start coughing and sound like she is about to loose a lung. Perhaps even two. I am sure there are life long smokers out there that could not match her efforts of late. 

My heart of hearts keeps telling me that it is related to the weather and the ridiculously cold air conditioning at school. It is not exactly the first time she has been like this, just this time it seems to be dragging on a bit longer than usual. 

Last night as I was tucking Miss Six into bed, she asked me if perhaps she should go to a doctor to see if they could help her get better. It kinda broke my heart. It wasn't so much the need to go to the doctor that saddened me, more so that Miss Six no longer felt she had it in her to make herself well.

For as long as I can remember I have been a big believer in trusting your body. Listening to when it tells you to eat, rest and all that jazz. Naturally it is something I am trying to pass on to the girls as well. Being in tune with your body and understanding what it is trying to say is in my eyes a wonderful gift.

So when Miss Six (or any of them for that matter) tells me that they think they can only get better with the help of a doctor I am torn.

There is no doubt in my mind of the importance of doctors. None what so ever. Modern medicine has done some pretty amazing things and does a great job at making the world a better and healthier place. There is no denying without the wonders of medicine many lives would have been lost.

However. There is a part of me that thinks antibiotics are handed out a bit too willy nilly for my liking. Which is one of the reasons I don't really do doctors all that often. The other being we don't actually get sick enough all that often to warrant a trip to the doctor.

Anyway off to the doctor we went today. And away we walked with possibly of a very mild infection or perhaps something a little more viral, he couldn't really say. Either way he happily wrote out a script for antibiotics, complete with a repeat. I am just happy he bulk bills.

When did you last visit a doctor?

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Saturday, April 27

On writing, zombies and wanting to crack Google

Image from here
One of the main reasons I blog is because I have this crazy aspiration that I am destined to be a writer. And a famous one at that. Naturally every time I see something telling me that blogging is not actual writing I cringe and wonder if I ever really will be the writer that I dream of. You know all famous and well known, and paid.

Of course then there are those that will say just by regularly posting on a blog I am essentially a writer. At least of sorts. There are always grey areas in life, well apart from death. Which is pretty much black and white. You are either dead or alive and that is all there is to it. Though having just watched the movie Warm Bodies, even the whole dead thing is perhaps not as black and white as what we may have once believed. 

Not that I want to spoil the movie for those that haven't seen it but essentially it is all about Zombies being cured with a little love and hope. Which I must admit, apart from the Zombie aspect is exactly my cup of tea.

Have I ever mentioned how I feel about Zombies?

Just quietly they make my stomach churn and my eyes squeeze tightly shut. Which as you can imagine makes watching a full feature film narrated and starring a Zombie just a little bit tricky. The whole eating of brains, pale skin and inability to communicate is just a little much for this little black duck.

Having said that though I am contemplating writing up a proper review for the movie. Though that may mainly be more to do with a desire to see if I could crack Google algorithms and make it onto the first page of searches for movie reviews for Warming Bodies.

A few months ago I wrote a post about how I made a pigs in mud cake for EssentiallyJess. Since then my page views have skyrocketed and left me feeling all kinds of awesome. Apparently people the world over are interested in making this cake and yours truly seems to be a hit in search times.

All of which is of course awesome and please Google gods and powers that be don't think for an instant that I am complaining because I am not. Well ok maybe just a little but not really.

I do love the fact that each and every day I can see more and more people stopping by this little old blog of mine, it is just that I kinda would like them to stop by and read just more than that one post. 

Hence the desire to see if I can jag the whole SEO thing again with a review for Warm Bodies. Or anything for that matter. A movie review of a latest release just seems like the easiest way to try. Despite all my other movie review attempts being a flop. But then again I am the eternal optimist.

Have you seen Warm Bodies?
Do you like Zombie movies?
What is your life long dream?

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Friday, April 26

Things I know about teeth, drain pipes, and just trying to get by

The first thing I know this week is that this week has not been as big as what last week was. Thank goodness.

After all the fun and excitement of hanging with Samuel Johnson and then the big '12' birthday party, I entered this week somewhat drained, emotionally and physically. There was no way that I could have handled another big week. In fact I barely managed to handle each day as it was.

I know that had it not been for the public holiday yesterday I may not have made it through to today.

I know that Friday's after a public holiday should actually be a public holiday as well. Especially if the first public holiday is one that sees you enjoy a drink or two with friends.

I know that I have been a terrible commenter of late and I am terribly sorry for my lack of comments. 

I know that I could happily spend the whole weekend, just me, my Mac and the net. Oh so blissful.

I know there is no way that is going to happen. Certainly not this weekend anyway and quite possibly not any weekend in the foreseeable future. 


I know that as I sit here and type my house is beyond a shambles. Which is what I meant when I said I have struggled to handle this week. When the house has at least some sort of order to it's chaos I feel able to handle everything so much better.

double sigh

I know that have a bit of a sleep in yesterday morning was awesome. Possibly even beyond awesome.

I know that coming downstairs from said sleep in, to discover Miss Three with handfuls of her hair no longer attached to her head was not so awesome.

I know that Mr Awesome was much more relaxed about it all than what I would have been if it had of happened on my watch.

Image from here
I know that having Miss Six explain that she was actually responsible for the hair cut because she couldn't stand Miss Three's fringe being in her eyes any longer made it a bit tricky to get angry with her, regardless of who's watch it happened on.

I know that leaving this post to go and take apart the s-bend pipe under the bathroom sink so that I could retrieve the tooth Miss Six just dropped down there, was not on my list of things to do. But done it I have.

I know that being able to do such a thing makes me feel all I am woman hear me roar.

I know that never being able to remember which way it undo and which way is tighten when dealing with screwy things makes me feel a lot less I am woman hear me roar.

I know that even though my pledge of 5km for Kate Says Stuff #OpMOVE500 hasn't appeared on the pledge list I am still going to get out there and run my 5km today. Commitment and dedication are not always my strong points and I am trying to change that. Seeing this through is part of that plan.

I know that Kate just told me she was about to add me to the list so with that in mind I best hit publish and get my runners on.

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Tuesday, April 23

More on Samuel Johnson swimming with crocodiles

While every inch of my being may have been shaking like a nervous wreck, on the outside I liked to think I was holding it altogether. Waiting out the front of Crocosaurus Cove to meet up with Samuel Johnson was some of the most exciting fifteen minutes of my life. Though this excitement level was quickly surpassed once he actually arrived.

In fact my excitement levels began to rise the moment I first spotted the Boob Mobile arrive
The Boob Mobile. Sam and the gangs home for the next ten months
Actually I felt like a bit of a stalker watching them from across the street and slyly taking photos. I contemplated going over and introducing myself prior to the designated meeting time but in the end chickened out. I knew my moment of glory was coming and I some how managed to wait for it.

From the moment the man in pink walked in my direction, smile on his face and hand stretched out ready for introduction I began to feel slightly more at ease. I just kept reminding myself that at the end of the day he is simply a little brother trying to fulfil his dying sister's dare. And hopefully save someone else's sister from a similar fate.

As much as there was a part of me that would have liked to have sat down and asked some hard hitting questions about how one copes with the news that their big sister's life has suddenly been cut short, there was a much larger part of me that knew I just wasn't up for such a conversation. Plus there were much more pressing issues at hand, like was he sure the crocodiles had been adequately fed?

Chopper the croc Sam swum with.
While Sam is making his journey across the country Connie, his sister, has asked for as many people as possible to come up with crazy dares for her brother to do. 

One of which included taking a dip with a croc. 

Mind you it was not just any old croc.

No, Sam, and a lucky raffle winner, were taking the plunge into the tank of Chopper. One of the largest, meanest looking crocs at the cove.

The Bendigo Bank, one of the Love Your Sister platinum sponsors sold raffle tickets in the local branches for one lucky supporter to swim with Sam and Chopper. Which was a brilliant idea, though just between you and me I had hoped that Sam was planning a solo swim, so I could have offered to keep him company!
Mick and Mick.
Mick on the left is a Customer Relationship officer
from the local Bendigo Bank.
Mick on the right is the lucky duck that gets to go
in the cage of death with Sam.

The truly great thing about LYS having sponsors such as Bendigo Bank, Jayco, Dominoes, and Vodafone, (to name but a few, for a full list go here) means that all funds raised, go directly to cancer research. The support given to this venture is beyond amazing and makes my heart swell, as I am sure it does Sam's.

If you would like to donate to Love Your Sister, you can do so in person at any Bendigo Bank, or online here. Donations over $2 are tax deductible and all monies raised go directly to breast cancer research.

With nearly 4000kms under his belt already and just under $170, 000 raised, there is still a long way for Sam to go to reach his one million dollar goal.

As much as breast cancer is a disease that attacks women it is also a disease the leaves a lasting effect on men who are close to those it attacks. Breast cancer affects us all in one way or another. Please help the final answers to the cure to be found sooner rather than later.

I think one of the things that I love most about the Love Your Sister campaign is that it is three young men out there trying to spread breast cancer awareness. Sam is kept company on the road by what I imagine is the best support crew ever with nephew Jonno and buddy Leighton by his side. 

Back to Sam and swimming in the cage of death though.

As you can see, old Chopper can get pretty excited once you start swinging a bit of meat around
As you can also see, Sam and Mick get a bit excited as well.
Actually even without dipping my toes in the water I got pretty excited too. It was after all a pretty exciting kind of day. Though there is certainly no denying that Sam was the most excited amongst us.
Sam shares what it was like swimming with Chopper.
An animal lover and enthusiast, Samuel had nothing but wonder, awe and a whole heap of respect for the majestic creature that he got to get up close and personal with. Something not many get to do even if it is in the safety of the cage of death.

But then again riding your unicycle for 15, 000km  is not something just any old body could do either.

As you read this Sam is on his way west. Once again heading along some of the toughest roads this country has to offer. He has another three weeks in the saddle ahead of hime. All in the name of loving his sister, in a bid to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer.

Make sure you check out the planned route to see when the Love Your Sister crew are in a town near you. Please head down and give them a cheer when they are about. And in the meantime, check your boobies and remind all the women in your life to do the same.

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Joining in with Jess and the gang for IBOT

Monday, April 22

Writing rather than cooking

With a little over an hour to get dinner sorted, read school readers, tidy up, get the washing in, fold it and put it away, it seems only natural to throw it all in the too hard basket and blog instead.

With so many thoughts bustling around my head trying to make sense of themselves, I am sure I will be much more productive if I write first.

Well that is what I tell myself in a bid to justify my selfish desire to forget about my responsibilities and just write instead. 

 Can't wait to share the story that goes with it.

Normally Monday sees me confessing with the lovely Kirsty over at My Home Truths. Only this week she is on holidays (lucky thing) Last week when I read of her impending break I did plan on a confession anyway as I am always keen to get things off my chest,  however, we all know how my plans go, so naturally it didn't happen.

deep sigh

Where was I? Oh that's right.

Meeting Samuel Johnson was certainly a highlight. We might not have spoken as much as we could have but truth be told if I had of spoken to him any more than what I did, I would have ended up as a blubbering mess. And let's face it, nobody, least of all someone as amazing as old SJ, needs a blubbering mess on their hands.

For those who don't know the intimate workings of my inner thoughts, I am an incredibly emotional person. I cry a lot and easily. For the most part I can hold it to a simple eye well. A few deep breaths and I can generally get it all under control but not all the time.

There are some topics that there is just no avoiding a tear or two when I think of them. Let alone actually talking to someone who may be going through said grievance.
Princess Ladybird
*Which reminds me.
Princess Ladbird Week
starts on Wednesday.

Losing a sister is one of them. Losing a child is another*. Throw cancer into the mix and it is all over. I am a goner for sure.

Tears will be shed. And quite possibly a lot of them. Not sob your heart out tears. Just roll silently down your cheek tears. Not that it really makes much difference. Neither are easy to ignore and carry on a conversation with.

It actually makes feel uncomfortable. I start to wonder what right I have to get all teary over their heartbreaking sadness. Worsened when strength and resilience are shown.

Now that's all out the way, make sure you pop back in tomorrow to find out what Sam had to say after his swim with Chopper.

For now though it is best I get back to that whole being responsible thing and get dinner sorted.

double deep sigh.

After all the fun and antics of feeding multiple numbers twelve year old girls the last thing I feel like doing tonight is feeding the troops that make up my family. Ok, ok I know, most nights the last thing I feel like doing is cooking dinner, it's just I couldn't let it slip when I had such a good excuse tonight!

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Friday, April 19

Things I Know About Love Your Sister Supporters

Right now the first thing I know this week is that my head is currently bursting with things I want to write about.

From the moment that I received the email saying I would have the opportunity to talk to Samuel Johnson when he came to town I just knew great things were in store for me.

Now I know this to be be true!

I know this photo really made my day.
Well actually my day was already pretty awesome already by this stage, this was just the icing on the cake
I know that the fact the Love Your Sister campaign has such great supporters and sponsors makes all the difference. This means that ALL funds raised go directly to breast cancer research. 

I know that the Bendigo Bank are just one of many businesses lending a helping hand.

I know I was going to list them all but there were a few to many and this page already has it covered

I know I mention Bendigo Bank over the others because today local workers were hard at work cooking snags and raising funds. They also held a raffle, with the prize being to swim with Sam and Chopper the Croc

centre photo: Bendigo Bank mascot with Mick, winner of the swim with Sam and a Croc raffle.
I know that the event put on today in the mall was all kinds of exciting. There were live animals, whip crackers, great dancers and of course crazy unicyclists.
From top left: Mick from Mick's Whips shows Sam how to crack a whip, One Mob Dancers, Sarah and a big snake
From bottom left: Sam rides a very big uni, Joseph (15yrs) does so to, Sam rides a not so big uni and cracks a whip
I know that I was a bit proud of myself having the balls to go up and introduce myself to the Lord Mayor who was there to welcome Sam to town. She had just retweeted me though so I thought it was only appropriate. (Hi Katrina if you're reading)

I know that it is frightening to think that one in four women diaganosed with breast cancer are under the age of 50. While the average age of those being diagnosed is 68 breast cancer is not something that only old women get. In fact 1% of cases are male.

For more breast cancer information check out this info sheet from Garvan.

I know the sooner we can find a cure for breast cancer the better.

I know that earlier in the week I promised more on what it was like when Sam went swimming with Chopper the crocodile. Rest assured I have not forgotten, there just turned out to be so much that I wanted to share, I have had to change my original plan a little. (yes those that know me well, I did really have a plan and as always nothing went to it :)

I know that if you pop back on Tuesday I will share more of the swimming with the crocodile antics. 

For now though, have you met Chopper the Croc?

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I know that to help spread the Love Your Sister story as far as possible I am linking this in with both Grace and Miss Cinders

Please share amongst your friends and make everyone booby aware.

Thursday, April 18

Thankful for so many things

When I wrote on Tuesday that I had a couple of big days at the office ahead of me, I didn't  actually realise just how big, big was. Sitting here now, late on Thursday night, I don't think my head has still fully comprehended just how big the past two days have been. 

I am so thankful they have been as wonderful as they have been as well.
Traditional Aboriginal dancers
I am thankful I had my photo taken with these guys. The One Mob Dancers.
These guys are so awesome they get a post of their own, well in a few days or so they will
On a side note, I really wish I had of chosen a different pose. A model I am not
Kenny Rogers is gently crooning in the background. His voice soothes my soul in a way words can never explain. Though tonight the music has a duel purpose, help my buzzing brain find clarity and block out the constant droning buzz created by the various night bugs that inhabit my home and garden. 

I am so thankful that last year I had the chance to see Kenny sing live.

Now Kim Carnes has joined Kenny for a duet and I am instantly transported back to my childhood. Waltzing around the lounge room, duster in hand. Banks of metal louvers apparently in need of a good once over. 

My mother was a domestic goddess and some how managed to convince my brother and I that playing records and wiping windows was fun. Interestingly enough my sister never seemed to fall too much for this. 

I am so thankful for my wonderful family. 

Family truly is an amazing thing. The last few days I have been watching the power of love that is created by family. Hearing Samuel Johnson talk about his sister Connie is proof of that. As is his quest to spread breast cancer awareness across  the country. And when I say across the country I mean in the most literal possible way. 

I am thankful that I got the opportunity to share some of their time in Darwin. 

Particularly because it meant I got the chance to take photos of these family members.

Cindy and Connie
Connie and her cousin Cindy who lives here in Darwin
Connie arrives at the welcome
Connie and Sam  
Cindy catching up with her cousin Cindy
Sam and Cindy. And a really big snake.
If you haven't already, check out Love Your Sister

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This post is linking in with Thankful Thursday over at six by the bay

Wednesday, April 17

Hanging with the Love Your Sister gang and a croc or two

So today rather that tackle the mountains of dishes, clothes and endless household chores waiting to be done, we did something a bit different.

Though if the truth be told since today was the day that Miss Eleven became Miss Twelve, I probably wouldn't have tackled any of those things and nor will I tomorrow for that matter.

the birthday girl

We decided to take some time out from the birthday celebrations and come here

entry sign at crocosaurus cove

to see this man, Samuel Johnson. Maybe you have heard of him before? 

A big wave from the super friendly Samuel Johnson

He is currently on a rather exciting adventure as he rides a unicycle 15 000km around this fair nation that I call home. He is hoping to raise awareness about the importance for women, all women, of all ages, to feel their boobies. 

Early detection of breast cancer means the chances of fighting it are greater. 

As Sam and his sister Connie say 
Don't fall into the booby trap, 
be breast aware!

Samuel is also hoping to raise $1 million
For all the details check the Love Your Sister website. 
You can donate here

Crocodile being fed by Samuel Johnson

Watching Sam feed the crocs was only half of the reason we were there. He had a much tougher challenge ahead. 

Walking down the path to crocodile swimming Samuel Johnson

 One that involved him getting up close and personal to a certain crocodile called Chopper.

Chopper the croc eyeballs Samuel Johnson

Don't be fooled by his calm appearance here. And with that I mean both the crocodile and Sam because it got a lot more heated after this. For now though I will leave it here. I have had a big day and it is now heading towards late, so you my lovely readers will just have to wait. 

It's ok though, I promise I will be sharing plenty more about all the fun and excitement of today. In the meantime go check out Love Your Sister and make sure you stay booby aware.

Joining in, for the first time in a long time with
My Little Drummer Boys

with perhaps a not so wordless post, but a very important message.
One that I know is close to a lot of our hearts xxx
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