Friday, June 29, 2012

Vegetable Weather!

We have been enjoying good vegetable-eating weather lately!   I love vegies at any time, but winter just cries out, (as you do..), for plates piled high with home-made vegetable pie, good old mashed vegies on toast, and big bowls of vegetable soup and such like.  Yum!  My personal food philosophy is that I will almost always eat and enjoy something if I know it's good for me. It's all that virtue-added flavour!   But I do think that vegetables are delicious anyway.  


A few nights ago I lightly fried up a generous plate of steaming, sliced, large, flat mushrooms, with lots of onions, garlic, some chopped up, left-over slices of triple-smoked ham, some capsicum and some mixed herbs -  then perched on the lounge and ate them all by myself.   Delicious!  

I did feel bad about scoffing them all down in front of my most-unselfish-husband-in-the-world Neil, but it wasn't really my fault.  Neil has his own personal food philosophy, but in his case it is borrowed from the 'Hagar the Horrible' cartoon that used to be in the daily newspapers years ago...   In one of those daily cartoon strips, Hagar once recited the clearly memorable words, 'Nothing spoils a man's appetite more than the words, 'Eat it, it's good for you!''  And Neil converted on the spot and has stayed faithful to the Hagar Food Philosophy ever since.  Sigh.  In other words, he refused my kind offer that we share.

As a side to my mushroom dish, I quickly sliced a couple of small potatoes very thinly, microwaved them to cook them through speedily, then browned them in the same mushroom and garlic pan, in a tiny dribble of olive oil.   Very nice too :)  After all, it is vegetable weather!

The next day I came across a recipe for Microwave Potato Chips here.   (Recipe follows below.)   I admit that I haven't tried this yet, but 'Food Gal' makes them sound pretty good: 

'So how could thinly sliced potatoes end up crackling crisp (being cooked in the microwave)? Seriously?
They not only do, but they also possess a purity of flavor — of real, fresh potatoes. Unlike so many store-bought bags of potato chips with their long list of ingredients, there are just three in these: potatoes, olive oil and salt.
Plus, there’s no heating up a vat of oil or turning on a hot oven to make these'.

I want to make them just to see how they work out.  How can you go wrong with 'a purity of (potato) flavour', I ask you?   (Would you please let us know if you happen to try them?  :)   

On Tuesday I made Chicken and Veg soup, then yesterday I almost made a beef and barley and vegetable hotpot...  (It's 'almost' because I ran out of time, but it's mostly all cut up and ready to go into the slow cooker this morning.  I'm looking forward to dinner already :) 

Does anyone have a favourite vegetable recipe that they would like to share?

Bon Appertit!
Microwave Potato Chips!

I made these in the microwave. Really!

Microwave Potato Chips
(makes 4 servings, 12-14 chips each)
1 1/3 pounds Yukon Gold or red potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed
2 teaspoons or so of extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
Slice potatoes into 1/8-inch rounds for thicker potato chips. For thinner ones, use a mandolin to cut very thin slices. Toss slices in a medium bowl with oil and salt to coat evenly.
Coat a large microwave-proof plate with cooking spray. Arrange some potato slices in a single layer on the plate. Microwave, uncovered, on High until some slices start to brown, 2 to 3 minutes (depending upon potato thickness and microwave power). Turn slices over (they will be hot, so take care with your fingers) and continue microwaving until they start to crisp and brown around the edges, about 35 seconds for very thin potato slices to 2 to 4 minutes for thicker slices. Check frequently and rearrange slices as needed to prevent scorching. Transfer chips to another plate and allow to cool completely. (They will crisp up more as they cool.) Repeat process with remaining slices.
Storage: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Per serving: 141 calories; 2 g fat (0 g saturated; 2 g monosaturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 26 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 291 mg sodium; 807 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Potassium (27 percent daily value)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Homemade Christmas Present Idea: Swim Bag and Matching Towels!

If you're guessing there's intense sewing involved in this gift idea, you'd be right.  And if you haven't sewn before, just forget it, now - because I'm probably the best that I know of, and this is a really, REALLY intense project.  Bahahaha.  Okay, not really.  I wrote that instead of the 'if you know anything about me, you'll know that if I managed to pull this off - you'll be just fine!!' I was going to write :)

It's true.  In grade 8 my teacher pretty much made my home ec. boardies for me, and I chose different subjects in grade 9, much to the great relief of both of us.  Very shortly after I had Maggie, I asked Mum to sew me a nursing cover to help me feed in public.  She said that she would make one for someone else, and teach me to make my own at the same time, and I can't remember, but I'm sure I complained loudly that I actually had to use the sewing machine.  Nursing covers I'm now calling my speciality, because I've made like, 10 of them (I'm pretty expert at sewing a hem around a square lol) - but that's for another post.  THIS post is about these towel bags.

I saw them at  There are two different bags - one with a drawstring for boys, and one with a shoulder strap for girls (you can find the tutorials she wrote for them through the links).  In a fit of insanity, I decided I would sew them for all of James' younger cousins for Christmas.  6 boys, and 4 girls.  2 Christmases later I'd finally run out of excuses and other ideas, sucked up my courage and started sewing.  They were pretty easy after all (phew), and I was really happy with the results!!! :)  AND even though I thought they'd be the cousins' least favourite, overly 'useful' Christmas present, they all LOVED having their own beach towel and matching bag (most of them live at the beach and spend a LOT of summer in the boat, waterskiing and swimming at the beach), so I was glad it wasn't a flop lol :)  

The tutorials suggested a cheap place to get nice towels in the States, but it did take me a while to find cute, price-efficient towels here, especially cause I was making so many on a budget.  You need 3 towels for each 2 gifts - 2 towels go inside the bags, and 1 towel makes 2 bags, if that makes sense.  I ended up getting the boys' towels from Crazy Clarks on sale for $6 each, and then randomly found the girls' towels at Pillow Talk for I think $5 each - and I was really happy with them - lovely quality.  Make sure you measure the towels before you buy them - a lot of towels they sell are tiny, and they need to be at least 150cm by 75cm I think... from memory... :)

Anyway, here's one of my finished boys towel bags and matching towel (next to a stack of wrapped ones lol - I was so excited when they were all finished!! :))

And here are the girls' towel bag with matching towel - cute for a girl :)

I think/hope the girls liked theirs too! :) 

Anyway, that's my idea post this week - if you're like me, and you begin now, you should have some towel bags ready by Christmas 2014!!! :)

Happy sewing!!! :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just a small gathering with a few friends

I come from a family who are absolutely fabulous at entertaining.  Well, to be more specific, I suppose I come from a mother who is fabulous at entertaining.  Dinner parties and party-parties are always amazing.  Delicious food, fabulous decorating or table setting, flower, candles, music, and that perfect atmosphere.  My parents’ gatherings are kind of legendary.

And having helped out at many of these ‘events’, I now find I have a bit of a problem:  I’m not very good at doing things on a small scale.  I think I am.  I mean, these things always start small in my head.  They just have a way of growing. A little bit out of control.
But if people only knew how much I don’t let myself do, they would be amazed and just how not over the top I’m often being.
Case Study:   A couple of nights ago I had a group of people over for dinner.  One of my friends has gone back to uni, and after working harder than anyone I’ve ever seen at uni, they had just finished their final exam in their first semester.  We decided to celebrate, and rather than go out and spend money and be all tired on a school night we thought we’d be all sensible and not-over-the-top and just have a bunch of people over to my place. 
Of course, that meant we’d have to eat something, and I was kind of in a cooking mood (it’s been a little while since I’ve cooked anything from a recipe) so at 11am that morning I asked my friend what they felt like for dinner.  The reply:  “Um, actually, Mexican would be great! We could just have tacos.  Let me know what fillings I can bring”.
But, being a Munro (who only really let family ‘bring things’) I said ‘oh no, leave it with me.  I can whip up some tacos’.  But of course, within about 5 minutes of mulling things over in my head and looking online, the dinner went from tacos to Mexican salads with beans, rice, salsa, guacamole, Mexican steak and chicken enchiladas all made from very complicated recipes and sauces that (for example) involved roasting chillies and tomatoes as the first step.  And then Pavlova cups and fruit salad (aka 12 different fruits cut into very tiny pieces) and custard cream with lemon sorbet. 
And of course I only had about 2 hours between work, shops and people eating, so I spent most of that time ruing my tendency to bite off more than I could chew, and being incredibly grateful for the 3 angel friends who are also on university holidays and who thought it would be ‘fun’ to come and help me cook.  (I don’t know if they had realised just how happy I’d be to give them job after job after job after job in the kitchen).
The end result of course was a truly delicious meal (if I do say so myself), with a great atmosphere and a lively game of white-board Pictionary after dinner.  BUT, there was about 18 times too much food.
Amy: *glad-wrapping the vat of guacamole after dinner* Tammy, how many avocados did you use to make this?
Tammy: Um, 14. 
Amy: *laughing hysterically with a few other people* what were you thinking making this much guacamole? Did you think we’d eat it?! 
Tammy: Um, I was thinking “I hate it when we run out of guacamole”…)
BUT in my defence – I did not do shredded port and shredded chicken and roasted onions and corn with the dinner, as well as homemade bread rolls. And I did not hire chairs and tables so that we could all sit at the same table.

So really, I was quite resonable about the whole thing.  And everyone enjoyed themselves, so I would call the evening a success :)

xo Tammy

PS.  The guacamole is currently sitting in three separate (and large) tupperware containers in the fridge.  Last night when a friend wanted to hang out I managed to convince them that we should hang out at my place (so I could then force them to eat Mexican leftovers). Unfortunately they didn't eat as much as I'd hoped.  Not to worry though, I have another friend who wants to hang out tonight who will also (unbeknownst to them) be eating delicious Mexican food leftovers.

PPS.  You don't like guacamole, do you?  7pm tonight? my house?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the church quiet books i have made

This project was a labour of love. It took me 2 years to complete on and off, but I am SO glad that I did it.

The idea came one spring morning, when Jenna our eldest had just turned one. Church meetings can be long for little children, and I decided I wanted to fill that time with 'Gospel' centred activities. I can't remember how or when I got the idea exactly, but I thought a gospel centred quiet book would be great! I was very excited to get started and actually made 2 at once. I knew if I made only one, with the intent to make a second when I had finished, it would never happen. After making it two years later from when I started, I definitely think I was inspired to do both at the same time ... and I'm really glad I listened and did. 

In my head I thought "how hard can it be?", me, being a novice. My mum is a wonderful sewer and has made a trillion dance costumes for me over the years. I opted for a sewing machine for my 21st birthday present from Mum, but didn't put it to use for a while. I made a few little items like cushion covers and pants for Jenna, but the real creativity began with this project. 

Quiet Book

My inspiration for this book came from different quiet books on the internet. Some pages I made up, but most were inspired from a variety of locations. I actually have a quiet book made for me by my aunty when I was a little girl and that too gave me inspiration (it was a general one).  But most of all I hope my quiet book gives you the ideas you need to make your very own quiet book. To watch my kids use it that first Sunday in sacrament just made the whole two year labour of love with the sewing machine worth it. I have even contemplated making more for future niece's and nephews, but I am not making any promises!!


(You can see another home-made quiet book here.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Motivation

"Education, formal education, is a wonderful thing.  No matter the class you may choose to take, learn.  Learn as if your life depended on it.  Perhaps it will.  When you open a new textbook, say to yourself, "I want to know what this book has to teach me."  Learn the thrill of digging for fossils on the mountainside, or working over a test tube until dark, or getting on the trail of something in the library and searching it down feverishly for hours.  Be a real student, an intellectually curious student."

 - Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Friday, June 22, 2012


This Blog is the brain-child of Abby, whose invitation for me to be involved was easy to take up, since Abby has a so-far very solid history of producing exceptional children - both real, virtual and otherwise.

I've been told that I can pretty much post whatever I like.  With the proviso that it be related to womanhood, domesticity or creativity.  (And with the understanding that Abs has the administrative authority, quietly  held, to delete whatever she doesn't like!   Fortunately, again given her so-far very solid history of kindness and patience toward her children, I feel encouraged to begin...)

With make-up.

I know - it's not really very 'me'!  But I have a make-up tip for you that may actually be quite helpful.  To your budget and well as functionally:

Us Munro girls tend to use Clinique brand make-up.  The colours seem to match our skin quite well, and strength of habit has kept us loyal customers over the years.  One of the products we regularly use is this face powder:

You have probably noticed yourself that your skin in generally lighter in winter than in summer.  I've also noticed that my skin seems to be lighter as I get older, (probably from less time spent outdoors) - meaning that my usual powder now seems a bit too dark for me.  Not wanting to waste what I had, I thought to add some Johnson's Baby Powder to the make-up, mixing it to a lighter shade.  I wondered if it would make my skin break out or otherwise protest, but after several months I can report that it seems to be working a treat!  By using the darker shade and custom mixing it to the right colour for me, I am making my (somewhat expensive), Clinique powder last about twice as long!   Is this a tip that you can use?

And since I am on a bit of a make-up roll here: If you ever need to cover up a spot/bite/scratch on your arms or legs, you will probably find that you ought to adjust your make-up colours to match that area - often needing to lighten the effect.  After using liquid make-up or a cover stick, your best bet is often to use baby powder on top, which is more likely to blend with your skin colour.  (Does anybody ever do this??)

Last make-up tip for today:  It's been many years since I used a separate blush colour.  Much easier (and always a perfect match), to pat your finger over your newly-applied lip-stick and pat that onto your cheeks.  A good way to apply blush is to pat some colour onto the apple of each cheek, (easy to find when you smile - and nice to smile at yourself in the mirror too, as a bonus to this method :), then extend it toward the top of each ear, then blend.

Should we even bother to wear make-up?  Sure.  I think so.  'Be yourself, but always be your best self!' is a saying that might well apply to the physical just as well as to the spirtitual/emotional, don't you think?

Have a happy day!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Children's Book Review: Press Here

'Press Here'
By Herve Tullet

I saw this book in the ABC store a few months ago when Maggie and I were searching for something fabulous to buy with a gift voucher.  Maggie was busy picking other (way less cool) books off the shelf, and I didn't even stop to pick it up!  If I'd known then... :)

A few weeks later, Mum showed me the awesome book she'd bought for Ana's birthday.  And it completely rocked my world.  And I can't believe I didn't stop to pick it up that first time I saw it!  So if you're ever in a book store and you see it, pick it up.  It had me in stitches the first time I read it!

Not only is 'Press Here' totally fun and mirth-provoking, it's actually really good for teaching children to follow simple instructions, and believe me, children need explicit teaching!  I used to tutor primary school children, and have spent hours 1-on-1 with preschool students teaching them how to follow instructions!  If I had seen this book back then, I would have bought it.  It's actually educationally fantastic (early ages).  And it teaches colours (well, 3 of them anyway...) and shapes (well... 1 of them anyway), and counting as well as following instructions! :)

And it's fun! - back to the fun - because I really just love it for that too :)  Each page asks you to do something - tap on a particular dot,  rub on one, shake it a little, tip it to one side, etc. It's old school interactive.  It makes me smile :)

And it has personality...

... isn't it cute??  I highly recommend it :)  I really, really love it!!  Great from Maggie's age (2) right up till....well, her grandmother was pretty chuffed with it too :)


I know, my first Thursday post on a book review.  

You may think that's a cop-out.  Maaaaybe, I'm overtired, and have baby-brain, and couldn't think of anything fabulously creative to write about?!!

All true.

But I also LOVE children's books.  Love.  Maybe it's the primary school teacher and future teacher librarian in me.  Maybe it's the little girl inside me who used to read a book under the table at dinner hoping nobody would notice (they always did, thank goodness, and I learned to converse and eat!).  But since I love children's books, I don't think I'll be able to stop myself from sharing some of them with you too.  And I promise to only share awesome ones, that you're bound to love too, so you practically can't WAIT for me to review another :)

Happy pressing! ;)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Music on Purpose

Victor Hugo once said "Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”.  Albert Einstein said "If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”   And then there's one of my favourite music quotes, from Woody Allen, who said "I just can't listen to any more Wagner, you know...I'm starting to get the urge to conquer Poland.”  Which is pretty fabulous really, because it sums up just how powerful music really is.

I can't hear a swinging big band without getting a huge, dorky grin on my face.  I can't hear a great dance song without tapping my foot and starting to dance in my chair.  I can't be grumpy when 'Aint no mountain high enough' is playing on the radio. I can't hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing one of the gospel's beautiful hymns without feeling a peace settle over my heart and notice my emotions start to calm and settle.  I can't listen to a beautiful huge romantic orchestral rendition of one of the great composers without feeling my soul swell a little. I can't be alone in the car without singing loudly to whatever music's on the radio (or is playing in my head).  And I can't listen to a wonderful singer sing any song that means something to them, without getting a little emotional and - again - finding that dorky grin spreading inevitably across my face.  In short, I can't hear Wagner, without wanting to conquer Poland.

Now, If you know me, you know that music is a pretty big part of my life.  I've played the piano forever (and will be forever grateful to my parents for the lessons and encouragement), and I've done a lot of singing over the years.  So it would make sense that I have a bit of a love affair with music.

BUT the wonderful (wonderful) thing about music is that it's an absolutely universal language.  You don't have to be musical, or play the piano, or even carry a tune very well, to be able to enjoy it.  I'm always curious/impressed/interested/amazed at the affect music seems to have on new-borns, for example. I think I've sung quietly into the ear of each of my six nieces and nephews at one time or another while they've been crying.  And each time it noticeably soothes and calms them at least a little.  Lullabies are something special, aren't they? 

 And so, I like to use music 'on purpose'.  I'll put on a 'happy' song if I'm feeling grumpy and know need to get myself up and out of it.  I'll use hymns or beautiful classical music to bring back the spirit if I'm feeling particularly un-Christlike or upset, and I'll sing one of those same hymns if I'm trying to share my testimony of Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ - even if it's just with myself.  I'll make up songs if I need to remember a physics formula, or a quote, or a scripture.  And I love to sing simple songs with my nieces or nephews if I need to calm them down, or arrest their attention, or share a special little moment with them.

So experienced or not, it's never to late to start enjoying music.  I love this little piece by a fellow named Donald Miller:

"I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.
After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way."

And there we have the universal language at work :) 

Do you have a story or experience about how you use music 'on purpose'? Would love to hear from you!

xo Tammy

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

take time

My first post ... Yay!! Such a privilege to be apart of this wonderful blog. So I think a good way to start is to introduce myself.

My name is Jessima. I am a young Mum to 3 adorable little kiddies. My husband just graduated university last year and is a dentist. We just bought our first home and are loving life at the moment. I love to blog, take pictures and play sport. I also love to make a house a home :) I hope you enjoy every Tuesday with me as I share bits and pieces from our life :)

So for my first EVER post, I wanted to share something I read in my personal journal/blog.

It seems life is wanting to take us in all directions. Whether we are a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, or friend, we each have responsibilities pulling us in all directions. Some are more important than others, some are less important but we choose to let them take up our time. As a mother of 3 little kids (all under 4), it is easy to feel like you have no time. Most days I have a lot of time, but if I'm not focused on how to use that time, it too can dwindle away very quickly. Before I know it, we have had an unproductive day. So a little while ago I came across 10 great tips to help us "Take Time" with our kids. In the LDS manual "Teaching, no greater call" President Benson said:

We need to TAKE TIME

(1) to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going

(2) to be a real friend to your children

(3) to read to your children

(4) to pray with your children

(5) to have a meaningful weekly home evening ... make this one of your great family traditions

(6) to be together at meal times as often as possible

(7) daily to read the scriptures together as a family

(8) to do things together as a family

(9) to teach your children. Catch the teaching moments.

(10) to truly love your children

(To the Mothers in Zion, 8-12)

Such simple, yet effective principles. But sometimes letting the 'busyness' of life interfere with our 'mothering or parenting', we can forget the basics and our true focus. I especially like point 9 - catching the teaching moments. I'm personally not very good at that one, but one I want to work on.

I know that by being 'present' in my kids life and even my nieces (and future nephews) lives, I can hopefully be their first source of help and also to share in their highest of highs and lowest of lows in life. TIME is precious and we need to make the most of it NOW!!!