The Tastes of Winter

This post is a Product Talk by Nuffnang. I was provided product to sample & review. All opinions herein are my own.

Ah winter, you have joined us with a vengeance this year, well at least in Tasmania. It’s been cold and windy, perfect weather for staying inside by the fire. One of my other favourite things in winter, apart from sitting by the fire, is a huge mug of steaming hot soup.

Homemade soup is a staple in our house each winter but when I can’t be bothered we often grabbed the single serve quick packet powdered soups for a warming lunch. My biggest concern with these is sometimes you really aren’t sure what’s in them. Enter Heinz with their new Squeeze and Stir soups.Heinz Squeeze & Stir soups Heinz Squeeze & Stir sachets are a thick and rich soup concentrate paste, and unlike powdered cup soups, are made from fresh ripe tomatoes. Heinz Squeeze & Stir is low in fat and contains no artificial colours, flavours and no preservatives.

We were sent the Rich Tomato with Basil and Ripe Tomato & Vegetables to try and it was a fight for who would try which flavour.

Squeeze & Stir set

Heinz Squeeze & Stir are super easy to prepare. Just squeeze into a mug, add boiling water, stir and if you’re like me, add a swirl of cream on top.

Squeeze & Stir 01Squeeze & Stir 02Verdict – I had Ripe Tomato & Vegetables and wasn’t sure what I would think. I’m a Big Red girl, just plain big red. This was a nice surprise. It had all the tomato flavour I expected plus an extra kick from the vegetable pieces. Hubby had the Rich Tomato with Basil. When I asked him what he thought, “it’s ok but not something I’d rush to buy”, was the answer. Hubby, for the record, isn’t a big fan of what he calls ‘fancy soups’ much preferring pumpkin, plain tomato, Chinese chicken & corn or potato & leek. If it’s homemade all the better. Meh, I tried a small bit & I though the touch of basil was a nice flavour. Miss K is a huge soup lover and I’m yet to find something she won’t eat (am yet to try her on Scottish broth – I don’t eat it or cook it so she’ll have to wait til my Mum makes it for Dad). She had a small amount of both and came back asking for seconds so I’ll call that a win!

Overall, I’m not sure if I’ll be adding these to our shopping any time soon. Maybe as a treat (or so I can try the Big Red one). They would great for chucking in your bag before work for a winter warmer at lunch or great for camping trips or even the footy (nothing beats watching sport in winter, rugged up and a hot mug of soup – unless it’s watching sport, inside, in front of a fire, with a hot mug of soup)

Heinz Squeeze & Stir will bring Australia’s number one wet soup flavour, Big Red Tomato*, along with Mediterranean Vegetable, Ripe Tomato & Vegetable and Rich Tomato with Basil into the convenient pack format. Individual Heinz Squeeze & Stir 70g sachets are now available for RRP$1.25 from all major supermarkets and independent retailers.

* Source: Nielsen Scan Data in Season 2011

A little Gourmet Garden cooking

What to do with leftover roasts? It’s always a question in our house and there are only so may Shepherd’s Pies or curries one can make.
The other night I decided I’d have a go at making up my own recipe – nothing fancy, just a simple pasta bake using the leftover lamb roast from the night before (which in itself was rather delicious thanks to a little Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic and Gourmet Garden Thyme). So here it is – my Leftover Roast Pasta Bake with mini herby cheesy rolls.

For the pasta bake you will need (this recipe fed 2 adults & a 2yo with leftovers)

1 1/2 cups spiral pasta (you could use any pasta you liked)
frozen veg, as much as you like (I used frozen baby peas)
leftover lamb roast, shredded, as much as you like
Cheese sauce
80g butter
50g plain flour
2 1/2 cups milk
grated cheese
1/2 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic

Preheat oven to 180C.
Boil pasta until cooked. Drain and set aside.
Strip as much meat from your roast as you want. Mix pasta, meat and veggies in a bowl.
To make cheese sauce – melt butter. Add flour, stir until it boils and thickens. Gradually add milk, stir until it boils and thickens. Remove from heat, stir though cheese and garlic.
Pour cheese sauce over pasta and mix.
Pour into ovenproof dish.
(allow toddler to help herself to the mixture before you cook it – she goes back for seconds so this is a win!)

Cook 10 minutes or until cheese melted and golden.

Serve with mini herby cheesy rolls.

To make the mini herby cheesy rolls

70g butter
1 tablespoon grated parmesan (the real stuff not the powdery stuff)
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic
1 teaspoon minced garlic (just to add the garlic chunks)
1/4 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Basil
1/4 teaspoon Gourmet Garden Coriander (optional)
Mini bake at home rolls

Soften your butter (not melt it like I did) and add herbs. Mix.

Cut rolls in half. Spread each side with butter. Put back together.
Cook 10 minutes in 180C oven.

Disclaimer – I was provided a selection of herbs/spices from Gourmet Garden as part of their Blog Off Cook Off competition. Recipe and photos are my own.

Around the Wolf’s Den

What with Digital Parents Conference, Easter and my Blogoversary (have you entered my final giveaway yet?) I’ve been neglecting a couple of posts I had committed to write. So I thought I’d share a few of the products I’ve been sent to review lately (plus there’s a giveaway to enter too)

small_pink The fun Jelly Bean sandals of our (well my) youth are back and just as popular with the little people as ever. Miss K was rather excited when I picked these up from the Post Office and wanted to wear right away. They are one of her ‘go to’ pairs of shoes at the moment and has even been known to put them on before heading to bed!IMG_2788They are available in sizes for little people in blue, pink or clear AND big people in black, blue, red, pink and clear.

We’ve also be using the Boxy Design lunch set. It’s a backpack, compartment lunchbox, drink bottle and freezer gel pack. The set is $78 but I think it’s work the cost. The gel pack and lunchbox fit in a insulated compartment in the bottom of the backpack keeping kids lunch separate from everything else. There’s a smaller compartment on top for frequently accessed things and a long pocket at the back for paper and books. The lunchbox comes with two smaller spill proof containers for snacks or things like yoghurt (the lunchbox even comes with a spoon) and the two larger containers so sandwiches and fruit are kept separate and don’t need extra wrapping. It’s also dishwasher safe & BPA Free (as is the drink bottle). We’ve used it a couple of times when out and about and it’s been pretty good. Haven’t tried sandwiches yet. It should last Miss K till she starts school and hopefully through primary school.

heatseekerSwimming in winter? In Tasmania? Only in an indoor or heated pool right? Well if your child is suited up in a Heatseeker wetsuit they could. Miss K loves to swim and has been a real water baby since she was really small. Last year she was disappointed to not be able to go swimming during winter, this year she can. Mind you I don’t think I’ll be joining her unless the pool is heated. This great set has kept her warmer than her other rashie type swimmers and the separate pieces mean the suit will hopefully last her a bit longer. Love the fact that Heatseeker is an Australian company too!

Now, onto a giveaway….
I have a pair of Jelly Bean sandals to give away. Enter with the Rafflecopter below (there may also be a pair in my blogoversary final giveaway too, just saying)
Open to Australian residents only. Closes 8/5/12

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ella’s Kitchen

While in Melbourne we attended the Kids Business Bloggers BBQ where I met and networked with some great brands. One of these brands was Ella’s Kitchen.

Ella’s Kitchen was set up in the UK by Ella’s Dad, Paul as he thought his daughter and other children ‘should have the opportunity to eat better food and also to discover that healthy food can be fun, tasty and cool.’ They have a variety of products including 100% fruit Smoothie Fruits, Stage 1 Baby Foods, Stage 2 Baby Foods and Baby Brekkie.

Miss K is at the stage where she prefers whole foods but we decided to try her out on the smoothies. She loves them, especially the Red One (100% strawberries, raspberries, apples + bananas with a dash of lemon juice). I’ve tried them and they aren’t bad. I can imagine adding them to milk to make a yummo milk smoothie or to some yoghurt. Hmmmm.

IMG_2443 IMG_2445 IMG_2447 

We haven’t tried the food pouch yet but I know we’ll be buying more of the Red One Smoothie Fruits.

Ella’s Kitchen 100% organic pouches are popping on shelves across Australia in Coles from 26th March 2012. Today I have an Ella’s Kitchen pack to give away to one lucky reader. The pack contains a cooler bag (made from Ella’s Kitchen packaging), 2 Smoothie Fruits, a Stage 1 Baby Food, the Tasty Tunes CD and Ella’s Yummy Guide to Mealtime Fun book.

To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below. Entry open to Australian residents only.
You can follow Elle’s Kitchen on Twitter or ‘like’ them on Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Menu Planning

Menu planning seems to be the thing to do if you want to help yourself save a little $$ and make mealtimes a bit more organised. I’ve been planning our meals for years & when Miss K arrived it made our life so much easier. There are still nights when I look at the plan and go ‘nope don’t feel like anything there’ or swap things around. Being the geek I am, I have been looking for a way to have my menu plan a bit more portable – you know, on either of my iDevices 😉

After a bit of searching I came across Menu Planner. This little app has it all – menu planning, shopping list, what’s in your pantry AND recipes all in one spot.Works on both iPad & iPhone/iPod too


I installed the app and got stuck in. Starting with the Setup tab. I left it pretty much as is except for adding our local supermarkets in the Stores tab.

I then added our menu plan for our evening meals for the week. Breakfast here is pretty much the same thing everyday – cereal or toast, unless I have leftover mashed potato from the night before – then it’s potato scones*. Lunch depends on the day.

To create your meal plan, you tap on your day (so for example today) and you’ll be taken to the meal plan, where you select a meal type (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack or create your own) then you add a course. Here you can add a recipe that is already in your list (or you can add a recipe as you go), or select a food. In the example below, I’ve added the recipe for Pumpkin Soup to our recipes.


You can use the plan you’ve made for the day as a template, move or copy the meals to another date and even email the menu plan to someone (for example, your partner). You can also print your weekly or monthly plan out to stick on the fridge/noticeboard/wherever.

In the Recipes tab, you can add and edit recipes you use frequently and want to add to future menu plans. You can also use the Import Recipes tab to import from a list of sites. I’m yet to try it to see if I can import my favourite recipes from (and then I scroll down and see it’s in the list LOL)

IMG_0655 IMG_0656

The Items tab shows you all items in your pantry and items in recipes that aren’t in your pantry – great for helping you make a shopping list. An awesome feature of the Items tab is you can add prices for each item, add you can add different prices for different stores (cause we all know each shop has their own price) Then there is the Shopping List tab. And if you added prices in your Items list you can get an estimate of what your shopping will cost. Bonus!

Overall, it is a super easy app to use and if you get stuck you can click on the Community tab for tutorials, help, to report issues/bugs and even request features for future versions. I’ve been using the app for about a month & I love it. I’ve even deleted my other recipe apps so I have it all in one place. You can also sync your data so it is backed up on the menu planning website – and you can make changes to everything except your menu plan online.


Menu Planner app gets

paw paw paw paw paw  out of 5

I have 4 2 codes for Menu Planner up for grabs, if you want a copy of this great app for yourself, leave a comment 🙂 Works on both iPhone & iPad (code has expired but thanks for the interest)


Disclaimer – I was given a code for this app so I could do a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

* Potato Scones (the Scottish way). Mix cold mashed potato with enough plain flour to make a dough. You don’t want it to be too wet or too dry, so it’s personal preference. Divide mixture into handful size amounts. Roll your handful sized ball til about .5cm thick, cut into 4.
Preheat frypan over medium heat. Sprinkle some plain flour into pan. Watch the flour as it will brown. When lightly browned, add scones. Cook til lightly browned underneath, flip and cook til the other side is lightly browned. Serve with butter (never marg. It has to be butter 😉 ). Repeat with remaining mixture.

FollowMe Sticker

I’ve been a fan of FollowMe Sticker now for some time after winning some freebies thanks to their Twitter account (@FollowMeSticker)


So as you can imagine I was pretty happy when they came onboard as one of my sponsors for Digital Parents Conference. I asked Stuart Lawson, Founder of FollowMe Sticker to share a bit about the company.

‘”FollowMeSticker was started after reading several articles on how small businesses were taking advantage of Social Media to launch or increase their business. One example was a small cupcake shop owner who invested time in Twitter to gain a local audience and introduce coupons and deals to bring new customers into the new store. This success can be seen by many other businesses who decide to invest some time into developing an audience on Social Media platforms. By developing a community on Facebook or Twitter that is local- you increase the amount of people talking about your business and that gets more customers into the doors.

Our stickers let customers know your business is on Facebook, Twitter, or other Social Media profiles. That means customers can go online and look for coupons or interact with others, as well as interact with your brand. FollowMeSticker was started to help individuals and small local businesses increase sales and word-of-mouth with only a small investment.

Although Social Media doesn’t work for every business- some businesses can really take advantage of fostering a small local community of folks who are supportive of your businesses values, and who will openly share their positive experiences about your company online. I hope that gives you a good idea of what it is and what our goals are. We are here to help local businesses increase their buzz and word-of-mouth.”

FollowMe Sticker produces

image image image

Get your own social networking stickers for 25% off in time for Digital Parents Conference by going to and entering TWITTER42

You can follow them on Twitter or Like them on Facebook


Digital Parents

Want to see your business features here? I’m still accepting sponsors. Please email me or check out my Sponsor page.
Join the list of current sponsors including FollowMe Sticker, Belkin Australia & George Town IT

Make 2012 your Goddess year

I’m a firm believer that all women have an inner Goddess, no matter what their religion (or lack of). We are all beautiful and deserve to find the goddess within. I have decided to make 2012 MY Goddess year. Getting back in touch with my spiritual side if you will. One of the ways I’m doing this is by finally joining the Goddess Circle at (thanks to some unexpected $$ just before Christmas – this year is obviously the year I was meant to join the Goddess Circle, yes?).

There are so many AMAZING things on this site but one of my personal favourites I get every year is the Creating Your Goddess Year workbook, planner & calendar.


It’s a goddess workbook, planner & calendar all rolled into one and features the gorgeous goddess artwork by site owner, & amazing Goddess, Leonie.
Leonie’s done a quick video about the 2012 workbook, planner & calendar

Seriously, how cute are those pages!

I printed mine out on Boxing Day and have added them into my household binder (but more about that in another post). I sat down on New Year’s Eve and filled the pages in. Ending 2011 & starting 2012.


The Creating Your Goddess Year workbook, planner & calendar is only $9.95. How cheap is that? BUT join the Goddess Circle and you get it free (along with a WHOLE HEAP of of other Goddess goodies). Want to know more about the Goddess Circle?

Amazing, yes? All that for $99. There’s also a payment plan if you can’t afford the $99 upfront. How cool is that!!

AND (yup there is more – no, not steak knives) there are also a heap of Goddess Freebies on the site.


Goddess Leonie is the creator of, a popular creativity, spirituality & business blog for women.
Visit her website at & grab her free Goddess in 10 Minutes Kit!

You can check out more of Leonie’s videos on YouTube or connect with her on Twitter @GoddessLeonie

Disclaimer – I received a copy of the 2012 Goddess Guidebook for review. The links to the workbook and Goddess Circle above are affiliate links. Thank you if you choose to use them.
All opinions are my own.

Belkin Play Max N600 HD Wireless N Dual-Band Router

I’m a bit of a tech geek. I’ll try a brand and if it performs well and the company gives great customer service I’m a fan for life. Up until recently we have been a D-Link family. Our modems, routers & switches have all been D-Link. Twelve months ago we bought a Belkin modem (for a customer of our IT business). Cut a long story short we ended up with the modem. No complaints about it.

Fast forward a month and we bought a colour laser printer. Our router had the ability to connect to the printer so we could print from any computer in the house. Fast forward another 3 months and the printer started dropping out randomly Sad smile At first we thought it was the printer. Upgraded it to the latest firmware and software. Worked ok for a day or two then the drop outs started again. And then it started dropping our wireless randomly.

Fast forward about a month and the wireless network drop outs were more frequent. Came home from a day out and the drop outs were every 5 minutes! The poor iPhone got a work out to see if we could find out what could be the problem. Seems it is a problem with the router, and the router had been discontinued.

After some research (& a call out on Twitter) we decided to go with a Belkin Play Max N600 HD Wireless N Dual-Band Router Modem.


Set up, according to hubby, was a breeze. Security settings – simple. Connecting to our network printer – so much easier – no requesting the printer each time you want to print something.

A couple of months in and I have no real complaints. The drop outs are limited to very rarely (and are mainly internet drop outs). The only thing I find slightly frustrating is whenever I start up my computer, the Belkin Set up box pops up (any Belkin techs reading this, is there a solution to stop this??).

I LOVE the apps the router comes with. Attach an external hard drive to this baby and you can do sooo much. Play your music collection wirelessly, priotise your data streams (be it online gaming, VoIP, videos),  back up valuable documents (like photos) and the “SELF-HEALING App automatically detects and resolves network problems and runs routine maintenance scans to give you the clearest wireless channel”.

Zhu Zhu Pets

We have recently had a new addition to our family. And quite a cute little thing she is too. Her name is Rori (& *squee* she’s purple – my favourite colour).


When Rori arrived I think I had more fun playing with her than Miss K, but she has slowly taken a shine to her new ‘pet’ and Rori has been out and about with us a couple of times now. Zhu Zhu Pets are recommended for ages 4 & up but Miss K is only 18 months and is quite happy to play with Rori, supervised of course. She wasn’t keen to pick her up to start with but now carries her Zhu’s around most of the day and find various play spaces for them. The kitchen is the favourite at the moment and it’s nothing unusual to see our three Zhu’s scooting around the kitchen. Oh yeah, I should warn you – Zhu Zhu’s are addictive, since Rori came to live with us we’ve acquired Kacee & Harlow.

We share our house with a couple of cats (or more they share their house with us) and they have both taken an interest in Rori and the other bhns with one even coming up to give Rori a lick when she’s not running round the kitchen.

Here’s two of the Zhu Zhus doing what they do best, running round the kitchen being chased by Miss K (please ignore the mess. And the high pitch squealing from Miss K)

Zhu Zhu Pets a video by Nightwolf_Designs on Flickr.


Zhu Zhu Pets are the cutest little plush robotic hamster toys. They can be put in either of two play modes: “nurturing mode,” in which they coo and purr, or “adventure mode,” in which they explore their habitat and respond to various stimuli.

Things I like:
* Runs well on a variety of surfaces
* Keeps Miss K amused for awhile
* Is cute and a good replacement pet if you can’t have real pets
* Not overly expensive
* The website – The Zhu-niverse – is a great place for both parents & children to learn about the Zhus and play games in a safe online area. And create a list of what Zhus and accessories you own or want to own.

Things I’m not to keep on:
* The noise. It’s cute but after awhile can get a little annoying
* No off switch. You have to let your pet go to ‘sleep’ and ours seem to chat for ages after we press the buttons.

Hubby has decided there should be one called Harvey. Hmm yup, a Weird Al fan.

Update: I can see more Zhu Zhu Pets and accessories will be on the wish list for Christmas this year. So much so we bought the Burger Overpass set. And I’m sure I’ll find another couple of Zhu related things for the stocking Winking smile

Disclaimer: I was given a Zhu Zhu Pet and accessory pack for Miss K to have a play with. All opinions are my own.

Table of Plenty Mini Rice Cakes

I am not a huge fan of rice cakes. In fact I remember mum buying a packet when I was younger, me taking one, taking a bite and spitting it out. They were bland and had the texture of cardboard. So when I was asked if I would like to try Table of Plenty Mini Rice Cakes I was a little hesitant. Would they be bland? Would they have no flavour? Would they be as yuck as I remember rice cakes from my youth being? Did I want to subject Miss K to them if I myself wouldn’t eat them?
I can say I’m glad I did agree to try them and I was pleasantly surprised.


When the rice cakes arrived we dove into the milk chocolate ones first. Cause, well they were chocolate. Hmm not bad. Hubby thought they were a bit bland so didn’t have any more. No biggie – more for me & Miss K. Triple Berry was next. OMG yum. Nice berry flavour. They went in a day. Last but not least was the dark choc. Nom nom. The chocolate was scrummy.

Table of Plenty are an Australian owned company established by mum, Kate Weiss (you can read more about Kate here) ‘to bring top quality products into the supermarkets; products with life, education, innovation and style that stands out from the ordinary’.

The Mini Rice Cakes are only 15 calories per cake, have no preservatives, don’t contain any palm or vegetable oils AND are gluten free. The chocolate on both the milk & dark is Belgian (yum) and the Triple Berry topping is made from yoghurt and berry powders. They are also mini and cute. Perfect for a snack for littlies or Mum while putting your feet up with a cuppa (yeah right). A great on the go snack. I found it hard to just have one or two.

Overall I was very happy with the rice cakes and can see the dark chocolate and berry flavours making their way into our groceries as a healthy snack for me & Miss K. I gave a couple of packets to Mum to try and apparently Dad ate the whole Triple Berry packet (minus one or two) and that’s pretty impressive for someone who doesn’t eat yoghurt. Mum agrees they taste better than the old plain rice cakes. So there you have it, a great healthy snack that actually tastes good.