Friday, 29 January 2016
I should know the ingredients for this recipe off-by-heart now. I've made these cookies so many times. They are one of my go-to make-at-home snacks and treats for the kids. I've recently started replacing the brown sugar with coconut sugar and while it does taste less sweet, it's no less of a hit with the children.
One of the reasons I like this recipe so much is that it doesn't involve making a dough and rolling it out. It means that the children can get involved easily and we can be eating them about 45 minutes after getting the ingredients out - and I always have all the ingredients in the pantry - quicker than a run to and from the shops!
They are based on a Bill Granger recipe from his Every Day cookbook.
150g (5 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
225g (8 oz/1 cup) coconut sugar (or soft brown sugar)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
125g (4 1/2 oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
235g (8 1/2 oz/2 1/3 cups) rolled oats
125g (4 1/2 oz/1 cup) raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 180-degrees C (350-degrees F). Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Add the flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix lightly. Add the oats and raisins and stir together.
3. Roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls and place on baking trays. Flatten the balls slightly. Bake for 20 minutes or until pale golden. Remove from the oven and cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
images the indigo crew
Thursday, 28 January 2016
Buy once, buy well. That's how I try to live as a conscious consumer. Sometimes this means that I spend a silly amount of time researching products. As we've just sent one child off to school and the others are about to head off too, I wanted to share some of my findings, in case you were also on lookout for products that are good quality, long lasting and produced with the environment in mind.
The stainless steel drink bottles that the children have been using up to now are quite battered and too large. It becomes quite a weight in the bag when you're carrying three of them, and they also take up a lot of room. They sometimes leak too. I was looking for a drink bottle that was a smaller size and easy for them to use but also manufactured in an ethical way. Living on a property that only has rainwater has made me even more heightened to considering what happens to waste water when it leaves your drain. Too many companies prioritise making cheap products with little regard to the environmental impact.
Ideally, we also wanted bottles that would fit into the side pockets of the Fjallraven Kanken backpacks that we bought for the children. Basically they need to do be 6-6.5cm diameter. This narrowed down the available choices greatly. Sistema does a range of BPA-free plastic bottles that are available from most supermarkets and the 330ml Twist 'n' Sip is only about $3 each. They are made in New Zealand. These were tempting as they were light and not made in China. They fit the side pockets perfectly but ultimately I decided against them because being plastic I don't think they will last long-term. And in general I am trying to limit the amount of plastic (and battery-powered) products we buy.
Thermos does a range of small-sized bottles too - but they are emblazoned with Disney characters and graphics that are not my preference. Plus, I always think children grow out of these designs quite quickly.
I also read about the Dopper bottles - from a Dutch company. But they do not ship to Australia. And while the design looks great, they are still (BPA-free) plastic.
We ended up choosing the Klean Kanteen range of 12oz small-sized bottles. The spout-style lid ones do fit (snugly) into the side pockets. They are not too large and they are an eco and ethical company - even if their products are manufactured in China. They donate 1% of annual sales to non-profit organisations with an environmental focus and they participate in fair labor business practices.
We bought our bottles from Shop Naturally. From the pictures on their website I didn't realise that they came with a detachable cap, which was an added bonus as this helps to keep the spout clean.
After going through a few lunch boxes that didn't survive the first year at school (broken latches and clips), last year I bought my son a stainless steel lunch box. It was important to buy one that could fit a sandwich inside but also had room for food for sip 'n' crunch and first lunch (or morning tea). We chose the Green Essentials product as it was manufactured ethically in India, and available through Shop Naturally.
It doesn't fit a full piece of fruit inside so we have taken to chopping his in half. And at his last school all of the lunch boxes would get thrown into a tub and sometimes the clips came undone - so we tied string around the outside. This year I decided to get an insulated lunch bag too so that this wouldn't be a problem, and he could fit his drink bottle on the inside so he only needs to grab that and he has all he needs. Plus, it has better health benefits to keep his food at a chilled temperature for longer.
Insulated lunch bags
There are quite a few options around. Smash is an Australian company that sell a range through the supermarkets (Coles and Woolworths) as well as stores such as Target and Kmart. They have some classic designs and their insulated lunch bags are free from a lot of nasty chemicals but ultimately I couldn't find one that would fit his lunch box and drink bottle, and still fit in his school bag. Sistema, the New Zealand company mentioned above, had a lead-free insulated lunch bag but I wasn't crazy on the metallic sheen. In the end, I bought one by Arctic Zone, a Californian-based company, which expanded and provided the option to fit a drink bottle and larger-sized fruit. It was quite a simple design too, which appealed.
So, we're all set for school now. Please included any recommendations you have.
images the indigo crew
Wednesday, 27 January 2016
An appeal of moving to our current location is that we are still only about 20 minutes from the coastline. As it turns out, given Sydney traffic, this is no different to when we were living in the city. On Sunday we set out to explore Umina Beach. The primary reason we chose this location was because of the surf conditions. Our son was keen to get on a board again, and the southern end of the beach has some swell but is generally protected enough that none of the waves are too big - perfect for beginners.
When we first arrived there were many dogs roaming around, and while I can see the appeal of this to dog owners, I was initially put off. However, after watching the eldest two surf and boogie board for a while, the littlest and I went for a walk along the nearby rocks. It turned out to be a good decision.
She enjoyed walking barefoot along the rock ledge, splashing in the little pools and picking up shells. We also spied crabs and a few small fish. Later the older children joined us, and they enjoyed talking about the sandstone ledge and the patterns we could find.
There were a few people about, but mainly young children, and families. While it is perhaps one of the busier beaches in the area, it still doesn't compare with the crowds in Sydney. And the opportunity to explore the coastline meant that we all had a great day. Our budding young surfers too!
PS The littlest is wearing a great beach dress from Printebebe.
images the indigo crew
Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Sometimes unexpected books are the best kind. School boy received How to make Stonehenge out of biscuits - a years worth of crazy ideas! by Tracey Turner from a relative living in the UK. It was a Christmas present that we only picked up a few weeks ago from our postal box due to our move.
While he was excited to receive the gift, after a first reading he was a little frustrated that it was written with an emphasis on Northern Hemisphere seasons. This was probably because a few weeks before he had felt the same disappointment when one of his space books only had a map of the night sky showing stars in the Northern Hemisphere too.
But since then, it has become one of his current favourite books. He asks us to read it often, and reads it at random times of the day too. We are told various random pieces of information from it regularly. It's amazing what children absorb, and what they find interesting.
On January 24 he read about the founding of the Boy Scout movement in the UK. The book makes suggestions about various activities, and for this day it said, why not pitch a tent - even if it's indoors. So that's what he wanted to do. The following day we went out and collected some bamboo to make a frame and hung a piece of fabric and he has been sleeping under his "tent" ever since.
It's a book that appeals to his interest in facts, and general knowledge about the world. And he enjoys the suggested activities. And now the Northern Hemisphere references don't seem to bother him at all.
images the indigo crew
Monday, 25 January 2016
For Christmas, the children received backpacks as gifts. We wanted something practical but still a little fun - hence, the colours. And also something that they could potentially use when we travel to see family.
The Kanken backpacks were a big hit, and now we're just trying to find a water bottle that fits in the side pocket.
Also, everyone's set with new shoes. The girls have sandals and boots from Poppeto. Classic navy and with velcro fastening. Our son got a pair of Superga, which also have velcro.
As for clothes, classic neutrals for him and floral prints from the likes of Printebebe for the girls (excellent at hiding dirt).
images the indigo crew