Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Week 9: Nearly There!

Well I hope you are all enjoying the home stretch this week as you prepare to open your homes and/or drive to loved ones for Christmas. Mine is rather full with my daughter’s 12th birthday on the 21st! Great timing I know. Yet the having the day dedicated to her away from Christmas planning and banter, is not only imperative to the success of her birthday, but oh so needed for me.

The most important part of this week for me is taking a few hours out of my busy schedule to smell the roses with my family and friends. Before the hype of the big day consumes your every minute, make time to just sit and enjoy a quiet meal with those you love. Chat about Christmases past and all the great things that have happened, hilarious things that have gone wrong and the irreplaceable moments that took your breath away.

It’s the perfect way to unwind and recharge your batteries before Christmas is in full swing. For those of us that have children, having them see us take time to relax and focus on them rather than the stuffing ingredients will make their Christmas that much more memorable. For us singles, have a couple of close friends over and do the same.

To do:
• Buy remaining gifts.
• Have a relaxed family dinner ‘alfresco’ and enjoy!
• Finish wrapping final few gifts.
• Go to Carols by Candlelight with your family.

To buy this week:
Dairy Products (milk, cream, custard, ice cream, cheeses)
Stuffing ingredients
Juice x 2

From all of us at the familyroom, have a fabulous week and a very Merry Christmas. Keep visiting us over the holidays as we will be posting more great ideas to keep your family and friends entertained and connected.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sushi and other thoughts...


Well can you believe Christmas is next week??!!!

I promised a sushi recipe last week so thought I’d post that today with some general musings…

Let’s start with the sushi.

I’m no specialist but the easy peasy way we whip up sushi rolls in our house –kids can do it – is this…

You will need sushi rice, sushi vinegar, seaweed/nori sheets and any array of fillings. Oh also a bamboo sushi rolling placemat. Have a look in an Asian supermarket, they have everything and it’s good fun to see all the different products and to work out some creative ways to use them.

We use tinned tuna in water or brine mixed with a bit of mayo, sliced avocado and thinly sliced carrots and cucumber.
You could also use salmon, chicken, tofu and any range of veggies.

So my best amateur version is to cook the rice and mix in at least a tablespoon of the vinegar so it sticks together nicely. Prepare a bowl of water, the drained tuna mixed with mayo in another bowl, and the chopped veggies on a plate.
Then I dip a nori sheet into the water so it’s wet but not soggy, then place it on the bamboo mat and spread rice over almost the whole sheet. Then place the fillings across ways and use the mat to roll it all up into a yummy sushi roll.

Make sure you have a sharp knife to slice it up into small pieces and serve it up as a great kids’ snack. Get them involved in making it and they’ll be even more inclined to gobble it up.
It doesn’t have to be perfect and a few bumps here and there won’t take away from the yummy taste. It’s good for them too.

Living in the tropics, I have to rinse off the mat and dry it, then stick it in the freezer so it doesn’t go mouldy!!

We were evacuated from Fiji last week due to the military coup, in true dramatic style, so we’re now in Sydney until further notice, loving all the yummy stone fruits and grapes and crunchy apples. I’ve also been rounding up lots of salad veggies with cheese and bread and getting the kids to make their own salad sandwiches, which is messy but fun and they actually eat it.
They also love using blunt knives to make their own fruit salad and then dolloping it on top of mini pavlovas for dessert.

Enjoy your kids this holidays and organise some great healthy treats to have on hand so you can indulge in the sometimes and party foods that go with the season. YUMM!

Try and keep active through it all too so your family can expend their energy, sleep well and be ready for Santa…

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I look forward to chatting with you further in 2007!

Lv Jane

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Carols by Candlelight

To my family I am known as a Christmas junkie. As much as they enjoy Christmas carols, August is not quite the month they had planned to start listening to them. So I must employ restrain and wait with baited breath until I can belt out ‘O Holy Night’ along with Celine or jazz it up with Tony Bennett’s ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.

I just love the season of family, festivities and food. Around the month of December I am a diehard decorator, cook and gift wrapper. Martha Stewart eat your heart out! But I have to confess my most favourite moment of the Christmas season, other than the ceremonial gift giving with a million family members jammed into my parents lounge room, is the tradition of heading down to the local oval or church where carols by candlelight is held.

Christmas would not be Christmas without this fun and meaningful production that gathers so many to remember the true spirit of Christmas.

Last Sunday night we went to our local oval near my daughter’s school to light our candles (which is a blog in itself...remember to cut the holes for the candle in the cups before you leave the house! Using a set of keys to hack a circle-ish shape into the base should only be left up to the likes of McGyver!) and sing along with neighbours, school friends and family.

To experience this each year constantly takes me back to the days of my youth when the awe, the reverence, the gift of Christmas was instilled into my young heart. I am so grateful to my busy parents who took the time out to sit for hours with us on a rug surrounded by mosquitoes for our sakes.

There are still many places peppered all around Sydney that will be hosting Carols by Candlelight before the big day, so grab the precious people in your world and the picnic rug and enjoy. Don’t forget to take your camera...documenting the dreamer in your child by candlelight as they stumble over the lyrics of O Little Town of Bethlehem is priceless.

Write and share your Christmas moments…we always love hearing from you.

Monday, December 11, 2006

thefamilyroom Movies

Hey there everyone I hope you’re all well and enjoying the days leading up to Christmas……’s getting very exciting, the shops are full of people, car parks are a hot commodity and Christmas music is everywhere.

thefamilyroom have developed our own movie list. We have sifted through countless movies and have come up with a few of the classics plus a few other greats that you can enjoy as a family or perhaps on a quiet night with your partner curled up on the lounge or even a night alone.

Why not make a night of it, prepare a few of the family favourite snacks and enjoy a night in at the movies.

Enjoy and if you have any great suggestions pop a comment on and we can add to the list.

Susan & Michaela xoxo

Wild America
Huckleberry Finn
Horse Crazy
The Greatest Game Ever Played
The Ice Princess
Racing Stripes

Finding Nemo
Ice Age
Over The Hedge
Brother Bear
The Incredibles

50 First Dates
Remember the Titans
Coach Carter
Raise Your Voice
The Devil Wears Prada
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Mean Girls
A Cinderella Story
Big Wednesday
Noah’s Arc

Cheaper By The Dozen I & II.
Father of The Bride I & II.
Parent Trap
Ever After
The Kid
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Your’s, Mine & Ours
Raising Helen
Suddenly 30
Kicking and Screaming
The Man From Snowy River
The Sound of Music
Home Alone
Freaky Friday
High School Musical
Princess Bride

Older Teens and Parents
About a Boy
Notting Hill
Sweet Home Alabama
The Horse Whisperer
Walk the Line
Just Like Heaven
The Passion

Chick Flicks
Little Women
The Little Princess
Secret Garden
While You Were SleepingPride & Prejudice
You’ve Got Mail
The Perfect Man
Maid in Manhattan
Shall We Dance?
Sleepless in Seattle
Dirty Dancing
The Wedding Planner
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Riding in Cars With Boys
The Notebook

Quirky Choices
Napoleon Dynamite
Elizabeth Town
The Castle

Santa Claus
The Grinch
It’s A Wonderful
While You Were Sleeping
Jingle All the Way
Christmas With the Cranks
The Little Drummer Boy
The Polar Express
Miracle of 34th Street

Absolute Crap!
Chicken Little

Sunday, December 10, 2006

thefamilyroom Christmas Plan - Week 8

Christmas is almost here....can you believe it? If you've been following our Christmas Plan then you are sailing into the season. If not, don't worry you have some time to catch up.

Enjoy this week and remember doing the simple things now will allow you time to relax on Christmas day and the week that follows.

Week 8 The Wow Factor – I’m Enjoying the Season!

• Buy 4 more gifts.
• Pick-up and decorate tree.
• Enjoy some Christmas movies with the whole family.
• Take a Christmas Sparkle tour of the lights either in your suburb or head into town.

To buy this week:
Cooking Oils
2 bottles of Champagne
2 bottles of soft drink
Garbage bags
Paper towels

Finally, make sure you have fun and remember to can do this.

Susan xoxo

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Breathe……… Summer holidays are almost here!

Okay so this is just a quick post for everyone preparing for the last day of school (mine being tomorrow). I want you to breathe and know that this is going to be an amazing summer holiday for both the children and yourselves!

Make sure you relax into the holiday season and have heaps of fun. Don’t stress about making every day special because that’s not what is really important. What’s important is that your kids (whatever their age) are able to relax and enjoy a break after a long year.
Take a moment and think back to your summer holidays, your mind probably isn’t full of huge days and you probably don’t remember each one. What you wil most likely remember are things similar to me….things like:

• A full day of swimming
• The sun on your skin
• Whole watermelons being cut and eating the entire thing
• The smell of a bbq
• The smell of freshly cut grass
• Games of hide and seek or spotlight
• Friends over for lazy afternoons
• Corn on the cob
• Fresh fruit
• Ice blocks
• Laughter
• The occasional sunburn….ouch!
• Flies waking you up in the morning when you’re trying to sleep in
• Coconut oil
.....and so much more...

You see summer holidays weren’t always packed full of adventure. Rather, most of our time was spent discovering life in the back yard, through conversations with family and friends whilst our legs dangled across an outdoor setting as we madly swatted away flies and mosquitoes.

So friends make sure you enjoy yourself, be creative and allow the tight ropes of our yearly schedules to be loosened and enjoy as many laughs as you can over the next few weeks. These are the memories that will last a lifetime.

Have the best day.

Susan xoxo

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Great Story about FAMILY....things that really matter

Hello everyone I hope you are all well and enjoying life. I posted this story/poem a few months ago and strangely it seems to have found its way back to me. As I read it I thought it would be great to post again as a simple reminder to everyone as we enter a busy season of life – the end of the year, Christmas and the beginning of the next.

Remember those dear to you, those you love and adore and make sure you don’t let ‘life’ get the better of you.

Enjoy and remember we totally believe in each one of you.

Susan xoxo


I ran into a stranger as he passed by, "Oh excuse me please" was my reply.

He said, "Please excuse me too; I wasn't watching for you."

We were very polite, this stranger and I. We went on our way and we said goodbye.

But at home a different story is told, how we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day, cooking the evening meal, my son stood beside me very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked him down. "Move out of the way," I said with a frown.

He walked away, his little heart broken. I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.

While I lay awake in bed, God's still small voice came to me and said,

"While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use, but the family you love, you seem to abuse.

Go and look on the kitchen floor, you'll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers he brought for you. He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue.

He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise, you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes."

By this time, I felt very small,

And now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by his bed; "Wake up, little one, wake up," I said.

"Are these the flowers you picked for me?" He smiled, "I found 'em, out by the tree. I picked 'em because they're pretty like you. I knew you'd like 'em, especially the blue."

I said, "Son, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today; I shouldn't have yelled at you that way.” He said, "Oh, Mom, that's okay. I love you anyway."

I said, "Son, I love you too, and I do like the flowers, especially the blue."

Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days. But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives.

And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than into our own family, an unwise investment indeed, don't you think?

So what is behind the story?

Do you know what the word FAMILY means?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

THEFAMILYROOM Christmas Plan - Week 7

Week 7 Time to Decorate – it’s feeling like Christmas!

• Buy 4 more gifts.
• Send cards for students and gifts for teachers to school.
• If artificial, set up tree and decorate.
• Bake Christmas biscuits with the kids and allow them to decorate and deliver to neighbours.
• Book in your necessary summer beauty treatments.

To buy this week: Bon Bons
Tea Lights
Table Decorations

©thefamilyroom 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Summer Time Eating

Well today is officially the first day of summer (in Australia) and I thought I'd write about some summer time eating for the family that doesn't have to involve enormous amounts of the stuff that sends them crazy and doesn't benefit their beautiful growing bodies.

The kids get so busy outside that we can forget to feed them until they are at our heels fainting from hunger at which point it's easy to send them in the direction of a sugary ice block in the freezer or that kid sized packet of chips in the pantry.

If the kids survive only on sugar this summer, no matter how much time they spend burning it off in the pool, not only will they crash and burn, but summer won't be as much fun as it could be with even blood sugar levels!

Being prepared is much easier than trying to pull something together when the little treasures are hungry.

Here's what works for me:

Frozen fruit is a winner. Watermelon and pineapple in chunks are good fun and bananas, peeled, cut in half with paddle pop sticks stuck in make sweet ice blocks that can be pulled out of the freezer quickly and easily. And frozen grapes are yummo.

The kids will also enjoy making juice in the juicer and then pouring it in to ice cube trays. You could then put the cubes into some soda water, throw in some frozen blueberries and you've got a fab kids cocktail.

Adding milk to the ice trays gives you a boost of extra protein to fill up their tummies and frozen smoothies are great too, especially if they're old enough to help make them. We put in milk, (cow's or soy) and frozen fruit with some yoghurt and maybe some cinnamon or honey if they need more sweetness. These fill up little tummies and keep them going longer. The other thing we do after school and on long sunny weekend days is platters of all sorts of goodies that can sit on the table with a cover or in some tuppaware, and they can help themselves when they're hungry.

These platters could hold chicken or beef kebabs with sauce, sushi (if you're feeling inclined to make some, it's actually quite easy), chunks of cheese with crackers and baby tomatoes, carrot and cucumber sticks with dips, and some slices of home made pizza.

Don't forget lots of water. When my kids are home all day, I give them a drink bottle and bargain (ok bribe) with them to finish it by the end of the day. Then they get juice with dinner.

They could also make their own salads from big containers of different veggies and fillings and may be more inclined to eat it if they've been involved in the process.

The chips and ice blocks are not black listed but once again leave them for sometimes or party time and get them into the good stuff and watch their little sun kissed bodies glow with health.

Have fun!
PS. I'll post the recipe for sushi in the next few days, it¹s healthy, yummy and a great lunch box or after school snack.
©thefamilyroom 2006

This One's for you Barbara....and to all the mum's out there caught up in trying to remember what end of year celebration is happening today at school

Have you ever had one of those mornings when you feel like you’re on top of everything (lunches for the little ones, hubby out the door to work, older kids organised for the day) and then all of a sudden the world around you seems to fall when your child in the back of the car says, “Oh no, it’s the Christmas Assembly today and we’re supposed to be dressed in something Christmassy today!”

As I looked in the rear view mirror I saw my little angel sitting in full school uniform without a stitch of Christmas reference on her person. As I drove down the driveway towards school all I could see is a sea of bobbing Santa hats as the other children made their way to their classes.

I did what all of us would do at that moment…. I said, “honey I’ll be back before assembly starts.” All the while I’m praying that the shop will be open, that they will have something and that I will get back, as I promised, before assembly starts. As I tore out of the school drive (minding the go 40 for me) my mind raced, do I go to the supermarket and hope they have something appropriate or do I go to the new Christmas Lights store up the road hoping that they carried more than lights. I knew that the Lights store probably didn’t open until 9am but I thought it would be my best option……The Lights store won!

As I stood outside the shop hoping that it would open early I saw another car race into the car park. I wondered could she be in the same situation as me? As she made her way to the store window I knew……. I wasn’t not alone! Thank you Barbara for being so normal and loving your children so much.

Our story gets better… In conversation I mentioned to Barbara that I hoped they took card (most places have a $10.00 limit on cards so I had already accepted the fact that I would be leaving the shop with things I didn’t need in order to buy the $3.00 hat I required). To my question Barbara quickly answered, “don’t worry I have cash.” How great is that – I love women on a mission especially when it involves their children.

The store finally opened, Barbara and I rushed in and found what we needed. We
found the cutest headband in the shape of reindeer antlers with bells on them and little brown ears sticking out the side (so cute!). We knew our little ones would LOVE them so we both took one and headed to the counter ready to pay. Barbara confidently handed over her $50.00 bill at which point the shop assistant asked if we had anything smaller. Barbara and I instantly froze thinking, we need these antlers and we don’t have anything less…panic, what were we going to do?

I think the girl behind the counter could tell how desperate we were and being an understanding girl (maybe a mum herself I’m not sure) she politely said, “you can just have them, that’s fine.” Barbara and I were both extremely shocked by her kindness – almost speechless (sadly this kind of stuff doesn’t happen that often anymore) so we emptied our change on the counter leaving her with approximately $2.95 and a HUGE thank you.

We both jumped in our cars and headed back to school. On our way back we found ourselves side-to-side on the road. Barbara was signalling to me that we both needed to breath deep, I was signalling to her how I wished the bus in front of us would make way for two mothers on a mission.

We arrived just as the classes where filing into the auditorium for the assembly. Barbara raced to her daughter’s class and I raced to mine. We made it…and the look on our children’s faces was so worth ever second spent.

As we left the auditorium we gave each other a high five, breathed a sigh of peace and knew exactly what the other was thinking…… We were great mum’s today, yes we both forgot something important but we didn’t let that get us down (I believe that guilt is highly over rated). Rather we changed directions, focussed and made the reindeer antlers a priority.

So to my new friend and mother who is determined to be the best mum for her children – this one’s for you Barbara. You inspired me today and reminded me that all the crazy things I do to make life great for my family is worth it. Thank you for being great and for caring!

Susan xoxo
©thefamilyroom 2006

Sunday, November 26, 2006

thefamilyroom Christmas Plan - Week 6

Okay so we have arrived at week 6 and if you have been following the plan you should be well on your way. If you haven't don't stress you can jump on board now and use the next few weeks to get yourself ready for the season.

Week 6 It’s all Under Control – Relax!

• Make sure cameras and videos are in working condition and batteries are charged.
• Send email Christmas letter to overseas family and friends, try and provide an updated fun family photo.
• Buy 4 more gifts.
• Put up external decorations (wreath, lights in trees).
• Book in any hair appointments for the family.
• Clean the bbq.

To buy this week: BBQ supplies (fill gas, matches, extra foil roasting trays)
Foils and plastic wraps
Plastic cups and plates for kids
Canned Juice x 2
2 bottles of wine

Have fun preparing and whatever you do make sure you RELAX. You are and will be on top of things.

Susan xoxo ©thefamilyroom 2006

HELP.....What Can I Give the Teacher for Christmas???

Saturday morning I received an email, from a friend, with the subject title being HELP! I quickly opened the email to discover that HELP was required to organise a gift for her daughter’s teacher.

Some of you may find this a strange cry for help but the requirements put on each parent was that the gift must be made or baked….a task my beautiful friend was not up to.

I quickly typed out a few ‘home-made’ gift idea’s that I LOVE in the hope that my suggestions would alleviate the stress in her life or provide her with that simple creative push she desperately needed. I hope you too will enjoy these simple ideas and remember it doesn’t matter if this is for your 16-year-old child’s teacher or your 5 year old’s – these suggestions are gifts that speak volumes – they are made with consideration and much thought and will be enjoyed.

Dare to be different this Christmas and let your gift speak volumes…..Have fun!

Simple Gift Ideas:

A Christmas decoration with your child’s photo in it

Cookie Mix In The Jar - This is super simple. Layer the dry ingredients in the jar with the chocolate chips on the top. Let your child hand write the ingredients and cooking method (remember it doesn’t include the butte or egg make sure you include it in your method).
125 g unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups tightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups plain (all purpose) flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 ½ cups chocolate bits/chips

Bath Salts – This is super simple as well.
6 parts coarse sea salt
3 parts Epsom salt
1 part baking soda
A few drops of your favourite essential oil
Food colouring for look if you want however leaving it natural is best and looks great in a glass jar with a hand written label and a ribbon (you could even use an old instant coffee jar – make sure it’s washed really well in hot water and the label to TOTALLY removed).

Your favorite Fudge Brownie recipe layered like the choc chip cookies and wrapped in cello with a ribbon and placed in a small tin.

Praline Crunch – this is SUPER easy and it tastes great plus it’s a huge hit with the male teachers:
3/4 cup of sugar
2 Cups Pecan Pieces
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Butter baking sheet; set aside. Place sugar in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, shaking pan occasionally, until sugar starts to melt. Reduce heat to low and cook until sugar is golden, stirring as necessary.
Stir in pecans, butter, vanilla, and, if desired, cinnamon. If sugar resolidifies, cook and stir until sugar is melted and nuts are coated.
Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet; cool. Break into small clusters. Store in airtight container in cool, dry place for up to 3 weeks.
To wrap simply use the cellophane and tin again – super easy and looks great!

Your favorite Marinade – this is a great one! Make your favorite marinade, put it in a great jar with a sealed lid and label giving clear instructions (what it works with, etc.). Super easy and really nice.

Well friends there you go a few simple tried and true gifts made with love from your home to another. I hope you use these and enjoy……whatever you do don’t stress you CAN do it!

Susan xoxo ©thefamilyroom 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Breaking the routine in favour of Family

In the family Room, we often talk about the importance of meal times; those precious moments spent discussing the day’s activities, high’s and low’s and anything else that might make for interesting conversation with our kids.

Tonight, I was tired, hot and my husband was going to be late. It would have been easier to have fed the kids last night’s lasagna, and then put them to bed early. Once they were in bed, I could have relaxed in front of the TV or read a magazine, happy in the knowledge that my kids were ‘out of the way.” Instead, I decided to make our meal time a priority. It took longer to prepare a meal for all of us, we ate a bit later, but in the end it was worth it. I even made it a little special. We ate outside under the pergola, listened to Christmas music and talked about our day.

When I asked my seven year old her ‘high’ for the day, she said: “sitting here with you and having dinner” … right away, I knew I had made the right decision.

As the queen of the routine, I do find it hard to operate outside of the time I have allotted for each activity. However, sometimes, just sometimes, we need to throw the routine out the window and focus on what’s important – our relationship with our family!

Nicki Partridge
©thefamilyroom 2006

The Christmas Countdown - We’re Half Way There!

Week 5 Keep on top of Things!

•Play Christmas music from now until well after New Years :)
•Buy 4 more gifts.
•Send out invites to parties you’re planning to host.
•Prepare a holiday house-cleaning schedule that works for everyone.
•Get your photo with Santa earlier rather than later (avoid the cues).
•Invite family and friends to school plays, etc.

To buy this week:

•Frozen Deserts

So far many people we have talked to have endeavoured to stick by our 9 week Christmas plan and have done really well.

Week 5 is a crucial week as it is now setting the scene for your Christmas season. So stack the freezer with your frozen treats, pop on the Christmas music, sit down with your family and write your holiday party invitations together.

Write to us and tell of your adventures through your week. Whether that is the crazy moments lining up in the supermarket, or those golden moments chatting to your kids at bedtime.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

These Pretzels are Making Me Thirsty!


Well I finally found some time to get my Pav recipe online. I'm so glad yourequested it.... I know you will love it! Actually Susan you should have ago now that you are officially Australian Citizens (yes, Australia has accepted 3 more great people to herself....well done friends).

The Perfect Pav

4 egg whites (or up to 6-7 if you want it bigger)
Eggs MUST be room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 heaped teaspoons cornflour

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Beat the egg whites in a metal bowl with a pinch of salt till white.
Slowly (1 tablespoon at a time) add the castor sugar and beat until mixture is no longer 'gritty', it should look glossy and stiff.
Add vanilla and vinegar.
Sift the cornflour over the mixture and fold through.
Place on a non-stick baking paper as a whole big pavlova or as smaller individual meringues. My tip was put wet kitchen paper underneath the baking paper.
For children you can sprinkle with hundreds and thousands or add food colouring to the mixture.
Place in oven, reduce heat to 120 degrees.
Bake a whole pavlova for 1 and 1/2 hours / smaller meringues for 45mins. Turn the oven off and allow them to completely cool while still in the oven.

When cooled, take the pav out and gently tip it upside down onto the serving plate, peel off the paper and let it sit. It will fall into itself and give you that great crusty, smooshy thing!

Serve with cream, berries, banana, kiwifruit, passionfruit, chocolate...whatever!

PS. I have also learned, living in Fiji, that humidity does weird things to eggs!
I always have to make my pavs or any baking, with the air con blasting.
So if it’s a humid day, make sure the fan or the aircon is on or if you don’t have aircon, take your kitchen tools to a friend’s house, Susan will happily have you over, as long as you share the results with her!

* * * * *

Hope you’re all happy and enjoying the lead up to Christmas with your wide eyed kids!
Giorgia stopped believing in Santa last year, girls can be clever beyond their years – but she has kept the magic alive for Jonah and any other little people we have around as Christmas approaches. Lots of fun!

One of the Christmas foods I love – and there are so many – are those big fat pretzels with chunks of salt on them!
I think I just buy them for the salt! They’re too good!

BUT as I’m sure you’ve all heard, we may love salty foods, but they don’t love us.

So how much can we have before it becomes dangerous for our health?

Well it’s around 2300mgs daily, which is great I hear you say, but is that one teaspoon or a whole packet of pretzels?

Like you did with sugar, go and grab some packaged foods out of your pantry and have a look. Two minute noodles have about a day’s worth of salt and a tablespoon of soy sauce or fish sauce has more than 1000mgs.

Don’t forget to look at the amount per serve. You may have to multiply the amount shown, by the 5 servings the brand is telling you is in that little can of chicken meat!

Chips, twisties and alas pretzels all contribute to the tally and tinned tomatoes or tinned anything can take us off the scale. A tin of tomatoes with reduced or no added salt has a negligible amount, but the regular ones have lots, look for yourself.

Too much salt in the diet has been linked to high blood pressure, poor heart health, fluid retention, dehydration and kidney problems.

Also people with Diabetes and exsisting heart problems or high blood pressure should have less than the average of 2300mgs and should have their diets balanced by their doctors or a nutritionist.

Are you adding salt to your food through habit or because you absolutely can’t eat that egg without it?

Like all foods, I’m not saying cut salt out completely, but be aware of the amounts that your body can handle in a day and shop for packaged foods with open eyes, and read the nutrition labels before you buy them. Remember the fancy name for salt is sodium.

Also why add salt to our kids’ foods? Often they don’t notice of it’s not there and hopefully won’t develop a taste for processed salty foods when they’re older.

Meanwhile, enjoy your Christmas pretzels! And don’t forget to drink lots of water while you do, so you don’t dehydrate from salt OD and too much Aussie sun!

Lv Jane
©thefamilyroom 2006

A HUGE Thank You to our Partners

I thought I would take a quick moment today to thank our incredible partners/supporters of thefamilyroom. I am overwhelmed at the generosity of the businesses in our area. They all seem to really understand the family message and have made it a priority.

Being the end of another busy year most (if not all) companies have what is called donor fatigue – basically they have given so much and have usually exceeded their ‘giveaway’ budget that there is nothing left! However, we have found that companies are more than happy to generously support the vision of family. For those of you who attended our LIVE event on Thursday you know that we gave away gifts and services to the value of $43,000.00. At this time of year this is an incredible blessing and one we are exceptionally grateful for.

Thank You to our supporters, thank you for helping us make our LIVE event something to last a life time, thank you for believing in family and for touching the lives of the families in our community and beyond through your generosity.

I will leave you with this story:

On Thursday night (at our LIVE event) we had a Santa sack full of toys (all of the toys were generously donated). One woman attending had recently had her house broken into and most things were taken including the toys she had already bought for her children for Christmas....devastating. BUT thefamilyroom were able to step in and give her the sack full of toys – this was one of the most touching moments of the was fantastic, we were able to make a difference simply because we can and with the support of others a life was touched.

Have the best day, give someone a hug today and remind them how much you care and make sure you visit our local businesses and thank them for their support of familyroom.

Susan xoxo

Thursday, November 16, 2006


What a night......thefamilyroom LIVE.....Christmas with the Girls!

If you were there THANK YOU for joining us. If you were unable to come this time we really hope you are able to join us at the next one......we had such a good time.

Girls were treated to live music, a gift bag (given to every woman) valued at $150.00 each, roses given out to unsuspecting women, plus over $40,000.00 worth of goods and services given which were all generously donated by the businesses in our community. Everyone left with something in their hands and a smile on their face - exactly what we wanted to see.

From thefamilyroom team Susan, Michaela, Sam, Nicki, Belinda, Annie and CJ we would like to say a huge THANK YOU for coming and for enjoying a great night with us. We worked hard to prepare the night and now that the dust has settled, we've had a good nights sleep a cup of coffee we are all celebrating the moments.

Have the best day, stay connected as we will have so much more on the blogspot later today and over the weekend and into next week.

Keep smiling, love each other and remember your family story is still being written......

We love you and believe in you.

Susan and team xoxo

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What on Earth is Glycemic Index?

Hello again.
Hope you’re all having a great week so far and enjoying your families.

We have recently learnt to make pavlova in my household as I feel that every self respecting Australian and New Zealand woman should know how!
It’s actually quite easy - Giorgia can now do it pretty much single handed!

Unfortunately pavlova is not a low GI food and as such is on the party food list, but hey, Christmas is just around the corner and I plan to make several, topped with cream, berries and grated chocolate!

So this week Glycemic Index…

You’ve probably heard a lot about eating low to moderate GI foods for good health and weight loss. In fact a great book about GI that I recommend is ‘The New Glucose Revolution’ by Jennie Brand Miller, Kaye Foster-Powell and Stephen Colagiuri – if you’re interested in learning more.

But keepin’ it simple - what is GI?
Basically a food is assigned a GI measure – low/medium/high - when tested to see how quickly it causes your blood sugar to rise when digested.
SO, if a food has a high GI, it will cause your blood sugar to rise quickly. High GI foods include Rice Bubbles and baked potatoes.
Foods that are low-medium GI have a slow-medium affect on blood sugar, examples are pasta, lentils and yoghurt.

So that’s great I hear you say, but what does that mean??

Well, the state of our blood sugar affects our moods, (we’ve all seen the kids at birthday parties) our health, our weight and the potential for disease.

Saving the high GI foods for party time and sometimes, helps keep our blood sugar even, the hunger pangs to a minimum and keeps us healthy.

Eating high GI foods daily has been linked to hypoglaecemia, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Inturn, regular consumption of low-medium GI foods has been found not only to help prevent these conditions, but have a positive affect on reducing symptoms.

I’m not a stickler for structuring meals around the GI of each food eaten by my family – I prefer the everyday, sometimes and party time concept - but I do make sure we are eating low-medium GI foods as part of the everyday, at some point.

Do some research yourself to get a better understanding if you’re interested, but here is a little list just to get you started.
Also, as we talked about last week, check the labels of the foods you’re buying, often they will say low or medium GI (they’re not likely to admit to high!).

Low – Medium GI foods
All Bran
Wholemeal and mutligrain breads

High GI foods
Baked potatoes
White bread
Many breakfast cereals
Soft drinks
Jasmine rice

Sometimes GI can be confusing, fatty foods have low GI’s (because they take longer to digest) and yet are not good for our bodies. Watermelon has a high GI, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat it, just eat other fruit too.
For these reasons, and with a plethora of other information and diet tips out there, I promote the idea of everyday/sometimes/party foods, I like to keep it simple.

I just wanted to explain the basic GI idea so you can contribute to the conversation next time it comes up over morning coffee!

Eat fruits and veggies everyday, good sources of carbs, proteins and fats, lots of water, limited party food….and you’re good to go!

With summer on its way, it’s a great time to throw some good quality meats, chicken and fish on the barbie, toss up a few salads loaded with greens and then round off with a fruit platter….yum-mo!!

Lv Jane

PS. Getting back to the pav….Some great tips I received include:
Use a metal bowl
Make sure eggs are room temperature
Place wet paper towels underneath the baking paper, then when the pav is cooked tip it upside down onto the serving plate and peel the paper off. This will make it sink into itself and help give you that great crusty outside, smooshy inside feel!
We had bananas (they’re FJ$2 for about 8 here!) and passionfruit on ours last night…too good!
©thefamilyroom 2006

Monday, November 13, 2006

thefamilyroom LIVE

Hey girls I thought I would give you a quick update on thefamilyroom LIVE which is only 2 days away. If you haven't booked we would love to have you so do it today. If you have already we are so excited and can hardly wait to see you.

Remember we have champagne or orange juice on arrival plus some nibblies (I know some of you were a little hungry last time so don’t worry, we’re looking after you) and a few other treats as the night progresses..... I can’t tell you everything I have to leave some surprises :)

I need to tell you that we have more GIFTS and STUFF to give away this time — we’ve been working really hard and we are super excited so get ready. It’s going to be a GREAT night!

I thought I would take a moment and let you know about some of the great gift ideas that we will have available on the night – we are doing everything we can to help you prepare for Christmas so in an effort to assist you with some of your shopping we have brought in some GREAT people and their products. I have listed them below, with their website details in case you wanted to jump onto their website, have a look around and familiarize yourself with their beautiful products.

Bliss Designs -
Inspirational Gifts -
Sweet Deliveries -
Compassion Australia -
Mel's Memory Boards

Amity's Child (spectacular children's clothing - up to size 12)

We are so looking forward to seeing you again and some, for the first time. Stay well, and continue enjoying life.

Susan xoxo

©thefamilyroom 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Computer much time are you spending staring at a box?

Hello everyone I hope you've had an excellent weekend. It finally felt like summer in Sydney and I believe it was a wintery day in the Northern Hemisphere. Pure enjoyment for everyone.

I had a great conversation today with one of my closest friends about computers and their place in the family. Following our conversation I thought I'd do a little research and find out just how much trouble computers are causing and I was alarmed.

I discovered (what I already knew to be true) that couples are breaking up due to computer use, children are becoming violent due to the games they are playing and the online company they are keeping. Families are being torn apart due to a box that plugs into the wall.

I don't want to spend to much time on this because as I've said before I'm not in any way against technology, it has it's place. What I am against however is the amount of time we spend staring at a screen and ignoring life that's going on around us. Reality is what's happening in our backyards, in our kitchens and lounge rooms. Reality is not found behind our screens (have you ever looked behind your screen, it's either a bunch of wires or if it's a laptop like mine all you'll find is a table top!!!!).

In some of the research I did I found that in a Stanford University study or 4000 people they found that there is a noticeable effect even with just 2-5 Internet hours/week, and it rises substantially for those spending more that 10 hours/week, of whom up to 15 percent report a decrease in social activities. Even more striking is the fact that Internet users spend much less time of talking on the phone to friends and family. Basically, through excessive computer/internet usage we are losing contact with our social environment – our reality.

I encourage you to limit the time you spend on the computer and those in your home.

Don't allow all hour access
Encourage conversation
Keep the computer in a high activity location (not in a room away from the action)
Check history files regularly
Limit games played
Establish a ‘log in – log out’ book for the family and decide what an acceptable amount of computer time per person and stick to it
Keep each other accountable

Lastly, if you find yourself getting definsive when someone says something about the amount of time you’re spending on the computer you might want to stop and think because.....they’re probably right.

Take care, be well and keep loving each other.

Susan xoxo
©thefamilyroom 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Reading Glasses...Not TV Glasses

Yes I am guilty just as much as the next girl for taking in more television viewing time than I probably should. A few months ago, my daughter, who is a bookworm, brought to my attention that my glasses were called ‘reading’ glasses rather than TV glasses.

So lately I have been challenged to pick up a book rather than reach for the remote, which is often the easiest form of ‘debriefing’ after a long day.

There is a great quote by poet and short story writer, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, “A man is known by the company his mind keeps”.

We all know we are often defined by the company we keep, but how often do we cultivate the company our mind keeps. Have we forgotten the art of reading?
Have we confined reading to emails, magazines and mail? With busy schedules it is too easy to slip into this very habit.

So inspired to return to the beauty of reading, to the turning again of pages, to the discovery of another’s world, to the quiet moments of escapism, I am leaving the television off a little longer.

My challenge to you is to switch off the television for one week, pick up a good book and see how much more you expand your thinking, imagination and creativity.

Rather than grabbing an old romance novel (which have their place), read a book that inspires you to be the best version of yourself, to think larger and make a change…and encourage your family members to do the same.

Here are some titles worth the read:

A Song Flung Up to Heaven - Maya Angelou.

The Story of My Life – Helen Kellar.

Desert Flower - Waris Dirie.

The Alchemist – Paulo Ceolho.

To Kill a Kill Mockingbird – Harper Lee.

Go ahead and get lost in the pages. You won’t regret it, in fact, you will probably find yourself in far more interesting conversations than those that surround Desperate Housewives or the latest CSI series.

Let us know if you have any ‘greats’ on your list that we should indulge in. HAVE FUN!


©thefamilyroom 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Sweet Life

If my kids were allowed, they would sit and dip their fingers in sugar and just lick it off for hours!
Most of us love anything sweet and all the more during that afternoon slump or when we’ve got PMS!

So when we hear about choosing low GI foods and cutting down on sugar, it can be confusing to know which foods are which and how much sugar we should be cutting down.

I’ll go into GI, or Glycemic Index in more detail next week, but first let’s look at sugar.
Our bodies don’t need – but can handle – let’s say 9 teaspoons of sugar a day. There are lots of different numbers and recommendations out there, but from my reading, 9 teaspoons is a pretty good reference point.
This is for adults, for kids, I would say around 6-7.

Carbohydrates (a carb is basically anything that grows), eventually break down as sugar, or glucose, in the blood stream which is why we don’t need extra sugar in our diets if we are eating our fruit and veg and some good grains, legumes and nuts.

Over time and if we eat more than the 9tsp/day regularly, we will put on weight (sugar not used by the body will be stored as fat) and our blood glucose may start to go a bit nuts.
This is especially true for kids, we’ve seen the evidence after those birthday parties!

So, what do we do?

Well bear with me while I give you a little formula and we can go from there.
9 teaspoons of sugar roughly equals about 34grams.

So, something like a 600ml soft drink for example which contains 70 something grams of sugar, has a whopping 18 teaspoons right there.
A can has about 11.

Going back to last week….case in point, not only do many soft drinks contain caffeine and all sorts of weird chemicals, the amount of sugar in my kids bloodstream would be off the scale!
Save it for party time. Too many kids (and adults) are guzzling loads of the stuff….enter obesity and Diabetes.

Ok, getting back to what we do about this – Start to read labels and understand them.
That way you can limit and reduce the amounts if sugar your family is consuming and prevent obesity, disease and behavioural problems, rather than have to fix them once they’re there.

Go and get a packet of something from your pantry and have a look at the nutrition label, and see how much sugar is in that product PER SERVE.
A packet of biscuits for example may have 11 grams of sugar per serve, then we see at the top of the label that their idea of a serve is one biscuit!

Check your breakfast cereals and low-fat-so-it-must-be-good-for-me sweet products and you will find enormous amounts of sugar.

Look at the amounts in sweetened yoghurts. Even the ones with just fruit have a days worth of sugar.
A teaspoon of jam has the equivalent of 3 teaspoons. One cup of ‘no added sugar’ juice has 5.
“Sports” drinks are just watery, coloured, flavoured sugar (about 15tsps worth) and are only necessary to replenish your sweaty body if you are an olympic athlete!

Add up the amounts of sugar your family is consuming in a day and see how you fare. It’s very easy to hit 9tsp of sugar in one go!

I’m not telling you all this to depress you, rather to empower you to be able to make smart choices.
If your kids love the sweetened yoghurts, then give them one a day and other sugary foods are limited or saved until it’s ‘sometimes’ day or party time (see last week).

My kids and I came to an agreement – they love juice so that’s their sugar for the day. They are allowed one cup and only if they’ve finished the water in their drink bottle at school.
Other than that, for sweetness, they have slushies made from frozen fruit and maybe something involving honey on bread.
And…..on the weekends ice cream and chocolate chip cookies may make an appearance!

Again, this is not some sort of regimented thing, I eat chocolate with the best of you, just know what your boundaries are, stick to them most of the time and enjoy the times when you don’t!

I’d love to hear your comments and talk more about how this can work in your family!

Next week GI…
Lv Jane
©thefamilyroom 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Scary Truth About Handbags

Have you ever noticed gals who sit their purses on public restroom floors - that go directly to their dining tables? Happens a lot! It's not always the 'restaurant food' that causes stomach distress. Sometimes "what you don't know 'will' hurt you"! Read on...Mom got so upset when a guest came in the door and plopped their purses down on the counter where she was cooking or setting up the buffet. She always said that purses are really dirty, because of where they have been. Smart Momma!!!

It's something just about every woman carries with them. While we may know what's inside our purses, do you have any idea what's on the outside? Shauna Lake put purses to the test - for bacteria - with surprising results. You may think twice about where you put your purse.

Women carry purses everywhere; from the office to public restrooms to the floor of the car. Most women won't be caught without their purses, but did you ever stop to think about where your purse goes during the day? "I drive a school bus, so my purse has been on the floor of the bus a lot," says one woman. "On the floor of my car, probably in restrooms." "I put my purse in grocery shopping carts, on the floor of bathroom stalls while changing a diaper," says another woman and of course in my home which should be clean."

We decided to find out if purses harbor a lot of bacteria. We learned how to test them at Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake, then we set out to test the average woman's purse. Most women told us they didn't stop to think about what was on the bottom of their purse. Most said they usually set their purses on top of kitchen tables and counters where food is prepared. Most of the ladies we talked to told us they wouldn't be surprised if their purses were at least a little bit dirty. It turns out purses are so surprisingly dirty, even the microbiologist who tested them was shocked. Microbiologist Amy Karren of Nelson Labs says nearly all of the purses tested were not only high in bacteria, but high in harmful kinds of bacteria. Pseudomonas can cause eye infections, staphylococcus aurous can cause serious skin infections, and salmonella and e-coli found on the purses could make people very sick. In one sampling, four of five purses tested positive for salmonella, and that's not the worst of it. "There is fecal contamination on the purses," says Amy. Leather or vinyl purses tended to be cleaner than cloth purses, and lifestyle seemed to play a role. People with kids tended to have dirtier purses than those without, with one exception. The purse of one single woman who frequented nightclubs had one of the worst contaminations of all. "Some type of feces, or even possibly vomit or something like that," says Amy.

So the moral of this story - your purse won't kill you, but it does have the potential to make you very sick if you keep it on places where you eat.
Use hooks to hang your purse at home and in restrooms, and don't put it on your desk, a restaurant table, or on your kitchen countertop. Experts say you should think of your purse the same way you would a pair of shoes. "If you think about putting a pair of shoes onto your countertops, that's the same thing you're doing when you put your purse on the countertops" - your purse has gone where every individual before you has spat, coughed, urinated, emptied bowels, etc! Do you really want to bring that home with you? The microbiologists at Nelson also said cleaning a purse will help. Wash cloth purses and use leather cleaner to clean the bottom of leather purses.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Modern Technology – What is it doing to us?

Hey there I hope you are all well and enjoying the weekend!

As of late my thoughts have been filled with modern technology and how it is shaping us as individuals.

I was recently out for dinner with my family and was enjoying our time together. Our conversation was full of stories from each ones day - we were enjoying lots of laughs together plus the incredible food we had ordered to share.

Being an avid PEOPLE WATCHER I noticed the table beside us and was saddened by what I saw. The scene hurt my heart. It was of mother and father sitting in silence, looking around the restaurant whilst occasionally rearranging their utensils. They had two children aged approx. 12 and 14 and they were both transfixed with their mobile phones. One was continuously sending text messages and the other totally engrossed in a game. NO ONE WAS TALKING!

Just the other day I had the opportunity to spend time with a few great friends and I was extremely frustrated with the amount of time that was taken up either through text messaging or responding immediately to a mobile phone ring or another text indicator. Our communication was determined and dictated by technology and our insatiable need to be ‘in touch’ with life.

I guess my thought is what about the life that is happening right in front of us. The people we are with – we need to give each other our undivided attention. My suggestion is we turn off mobile phones or blackberries, blueberries or whatever it is that is causing you to become so distracted that you miss out on LIFE.

I’m not against technology I just think we need to be aware of how we, and our most precious relationships, are being affected by it.

I, like you I’m sure, often wonder what we did before email and mobile phones – I think we walked more, had breathing space and enjoyed face-to-face conversation much more.

Have the best day and make sure you turn everything off and enjoy those in your world.

Susan xoxo
©thefamilyroom 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More Than Enough...For The Busy Single Girl

As a single working mum, orchestrating a square meal to be on the table by 6pm or so, is sometimes impossible.

I am sure that many working mums and single girls are in the same boat. Rather than feeling as is you’re flailing in this area, chin up and read on. I have listed a couple of tips to help you out after being helped out myself.

Last week I was picking up my daughter from a friends house after work as she was placing her families meal on the table. Thinking outside her world, she offered me her ‘more than enough’ portion to take with me for dinner. There was not enough for two meals, however, combining it with a quick salad…and voila!

I cannot tell you how relieved I was to serve my daughter up a great meal on time. The extra time we had together to SIT and chat was fantastic.

So here are a few ideas that sprung to mind:

•Try choosing meals that you can cook on the weekend that will freeze.

•Choose a vegetarian meal if you usually have meat each night. Cooking is often much quicker.

•Eat out at a favourite ‘cheap eats’ once a fortnight…make it a tradition.

•When unpacking your groceries, chop what needs chopping, wash what needs washing and pack into containers and refrigerate.

•Marinate meat the night before.

•Pot Luck – once a month. Invite your circle of friends over.

•During the week grab a barbeque chicken instead of roasting one yourself.

•Leave your intricate recipes until the weekend when you have the time.

•And finally think more like my friend...outside her world. When cooking add a little more and freeze your ‘more than enough’ for your friend, neighbour, elderly parents, etc.

ps: When it all gets too hard, when road rage was an option on the way home, when the washing greets you before your dog does…chin up! Call a friend, pour a drink and order takeaway. There is always tomorrow to try again.


©thefamilyroom 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Hello all just a quick story to put a smile on your face today.

The other night my hubby and I had decided to go out for a date. As you know whenever you decide to go out, once you have kids it’s no longer just getting yourself ready it’s everyone else as well. In an effort to be organised and ready for a great night out I bathed the children and whilst they were getting their jammies on I put the final touches on their dinner – a dinner I thought was really nice.

My eldest daughter and my youngest daughter feasted on the meal I had lovingly prepared and seemingly loved every morsel. My middle child who our boy in this great clan sat in his chair eating and chatting with everyone, mid way through the meal he said, "mummy, this is really good......except for the taste."

Needless to say, we all had a huge giggle. Thankfully I have a great sense of humour and his comment didn't rock my boat rather it made me love him even more (if that's at all possible).

I want to encourage you to listen to your children, let them talk. Remember, we were created with two ears and one mouth for a reason. Through their musings our children will challenge us, they will enlighten us, they will humour us and they will give us memories that will last a lifetime. Let them make you laugh.

If you have a funny story about something your child has said or done please share it with us. You never know who may be touched by the joy that resides in your home.

Have a fantastic day.

Susan xoxo
©thefamilyroom 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006


Hey everyone I hope this post finds you all well and happy!

I thought I would give you a couple of days to ‘digest’ our familyroom 9 Week Christmas Plan before we put anything else up for you to read and enjoy. I do hope you’ve printed the plan out and are trying to keep to it. I bought my candy canes today for the kids Christmas cards – I felt very organized and on top of things.

Okay, now back to what I’m writing about today...... How Green or Fresh Is Your Trolley.....

I’ve thought about this for sometime now and have wanted to share my thoughts. Actually the thought first popped into my mind when a friend of mine was doing the groceries with me, she commented on how proud she felt walking through the grocery store with my trolley because it was full of such great stuff and was so green and fresh (meaning full of great fruits and veggies). We eat pretty well in the Sohn home, stacks of fruit and loads of veggies and not a lot of junk or what we call ‘sometimes food’. We are what one would call a ‘foodie’ family we just make sure we keep it extremely nutritious and healthy.

Through my friends simple comment she alerted me to other trolleys in the shop and I must say I was very surprised at what I saw and continue to see. Some of the trolleys I noticed and continue to notice are very packaged, very white, and very colourful (which works to capture our attention and the attention of our children) however this packaged food is generally very processed which, my friends, means there isn’t a lot of goodness in some of these foods - not all of them of course. In saying this, I do however understand that some people do their fruit and veggie shopping in places other than the major supermarkets which is something I do which may very well be the reason for many trolleys lacking in their fresh produce.

In saying all of this and sharing with you I want to encourage everyone to make their trolleys that little bit greener and fresher each week. I encourage you, each week or whenever you do your shopping, to take a look at what your buying and what you could substitute or add to your trolley that would increase the health benefits to your family. It’s that easy and all it takes is a quick glance to see how green and fresh everything is and it may mean one more trip down the ‘fresh produce’ isle.

Go on everyone – we all deserve it!

Thanks for reading, I hope you’re inspired to make a difference in your life and the lives of those in your world.

Love you and believe in each one of you.

Susan xoxo
©thefamilyroom 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Welcome to Christmas!!!!

Christmas is a time of family, friends and fun and our hope is that you will totally relax and enjoy the season. In an effort to assist you we have developed thefamilyroom 9 week Christmas Plan which is designed to help with your planning and preparation (yes, Christmas is only 9 weeks away can you believe it!).

We want to take the ‘sting and stress’ out of Christmas - by planning now you will not only save precious time but finance as well giving you the opportunity to relax, breathe easy and enjoy the festive season.

Use the plan add your family favourites to it and make it your own and simply..... Enjoy!!

Susan, Michaela and the team xoxo

ps - Girls remember to book for thefamilyroom LIVE – Christmas with the Girls! It’s going to be a fantastic night with great treats, a gift for everyone, stacks of giveaways and much laughter. To register simply call 1300 886 283 or call thefamilyroom on 9659 8582 for more information. We can’t wait to see you!!!!

thefamilyroom Christmas Plan

Week 1: Get Organised!
• Organise yourself.
• Set a holiday budget that everyone agrees on.
• Buy and write your Christmas Cards.
• Buy your wrapping paper, tape & extra scissors.
• Prepare your social calendar complete with menu’s and guest lists.
• Write your gift list – break it down to family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours.
• Decide as a family what charity you will give to this year.

Week 2: Here We Go!
• Write a holiday shopping food list – use our week-by-week guide and add your family favourites to the list.
• Buy and send your overseas gifts (if necessary).
• Clean up the back yard and get it ready for the holidays
• Create a space in the house for gifts and wrap as you go (rather than doing it all on Christmas Eve).

To buy this week:
Candy Canes
2 Bottles of soft drink
2 Bottles of wine

Week 3: Gifts and Giving!
• Consider your gift list and who you’re buying for. Check out ebay, online stores, local markets and other avenues for great gifts.
• Buy 4 more gifts.
• Book baby sitters for December nights out.
• Book your carpet cleaning for post holiday clean up.
• Check Christmas lights and decorations – replace whatever needs replacing.

To buy this week:
Fruit cake and baking ingredients
Extra Sunscreen

Week 4: Get Cooking!
• Order and pay for your turkey, ham and or seafood.
• Buy and wrap gifts for teachers.
• Send Christmas Cards out.
• Buy 4 more gifts from your gift list.
• Order your tree.
• Bake your fruitcake & other goods that freeze well.

To buy this week:
Batteries for toys
Non-perishable items
Canned food items (sauces, salad dressing, mustard, etc.)
1 bottle of soft drink
2 bottles of wine

Week 5: Keep on top of Things!
• Play Christmas music from now until well after New Years.
• Buy 4 more gifts.
• Send out invites to parties you’re planning to host.
• Prepare a holiday house-cleaning schedule that works for everyone.
• Get your photo with Santa earlier rather than later (avoid the cues).
• Invite family and friends to school plays, etc.

To buy this week:
Frozen Deserts

Week 6: It’s all Under Control – Relax!
• Make sure cameras and videos are in working condition and batteries are charged.
• Send email Christmas letter to overseas family and friends, try and provide an updated fun family photo.
• Buy 4 more gifts.
• Put up external decorations (wreath, lights in trees).
• Book in any hair appointments for the family.
• Clean the bbq.

To buy this week:
BBQ supplies (fill gas, matches, extra foil roasting trays)
Foils and plastic wraps
Plastic cups and plates for kids
Canned Juice x 2
2 bottles of wine

Week 7: Time to Decorate – it’s feeling like Christmas!
• Buy 4 more gifts.
• Send cards for students and gifts for teachers to school.
• If artificial, set up tree and decorate.
• Bake Christmas biscuits with the kids and allow them to decorate and deliver to neighbours.
• Book in your necessary summer beauty treatments.

To buy this week:
Bon Bons
Tea Lights
Table Decorations

Week 8: The Wow Factor – I’m Enjoying the Season!
• Buy 4 more gifts.
• Pick-up and decorate tree.
• Enjoy some Christmas movies with the whole family.
• Take a Christmas Sparkle tour of the lights either in your suburb or head into town.

To buy this week:
Cooking Oils
2 bottles of Champagne
2 bottles of soft drink
Garbage bags
Paper towels

Week 9: Nearly There!
• Buy remaining gifts.
• Have a relaxed family dinner ‘alfresco’ and enjoy!
• Finish wrapping final few gifts.
• Go to Carols by Candlelight with your family.

To buy this week:
Dairy Products (milk, cream, custard, Ice Cream, cheeses)
Stuffing ingredients
Juice x 2

Christmas Eve Merry Christmas – You Made It!
•Pick up Seafood.
•Cook your Turkey and whatever else can be made in advance.
•The only other thing you should be picking up today is bags of ice.
•Sit and relax by your Christmas tree with your family for a few hours, have a laugh and get early nights sleep.

Well done now relax and enjoy yourself deserve it!
© thefamilyroom 2006

Summer Safety

The weather is warming up quickly and my daughter is eager to hit the pool as much as possible. Even though she is known as the ‘fish’ of the family, I will be reminding her of the precautions she needs to take and the things she needs to remember before the outdoor season is in full swing.

Swimming is the easy part, yet did you know Over 6000 Australian children are admitted to hospital each year after injury on the springs and frame or from falling off 'old style' trampolines.

At The Family Room we aim to provide tips on prevention rather than remedy. To help you prepare for another great Australian summer, we have added a link to the Australian Government Health Department’s guidelines for summer safety below in The Family Room Recommends section.

This includes all you need to know regarding keeping your family safe during the summer. Read the fact sheets, equip your kids with the necessary safety tips and enjoy this season with your family!

©The Family Room 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Basics

Hi again Ladies! Hope you’ve had a great week. We’ve just started to see the sun again here in Fiji after one month of torrential rain!

My kids have been sick with an evil bug that’s finding it’s way from village to village and so I’ve been force feeding them home made garlic bread, making mounds of mashed potato so I can throw in every vegetable I can find without being met with too much resistance, and making slushies – ‘just like the one’s from Boost mum’ – loaded with fruit.

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks with birthdays and late nights and school holiday craziness and Jonah said to me when he started to get sick, “Mum I think I’ve had too much party food!”
Which made me think about the basics…

Whenever I need to talk to people about good health and preventing disease, we go back to the basics with food, which looks something like this:

Everyday food
Sometimes food and
Party food.

My kids could give a health promotion talk on which foods come under which headings and we talk about them a lot. If your kids can GET this now, it can save them a lot of struggle later.

Everyday foods are the foods we need to eat, well, everyday, if we want to stay healthy and prevent disease.
These include the 5 + 2 principle…..5 serves of veggies and 2 pieces of fruit per day, (non-negotiable), lots of water, good quality protein like fish, chicken and lean meat, grains like oats, nuts and seeds (very easy to sneak in if there’s no allergies), dairy or soy and some eggs (2 a day are fine).
These are daily essentials and should be eaten as fresh as possible. They give you a mix of immune building nutrients that strengthen your body and keep things like blood sugar on an even keel. They also give us mums energy and nourish the body processes that support fertility and keep your mind sharp, just to name 2 of many examples.

Sometimes foods are the Friday night pizzas, the weekend pancakes, the occasional desserts, the school holiday and Christmas baking…you’re with me yes?
They are foods that we eat sometimes not everyday and not in large amounts. They are loaded with sugar, nasty fats, refined flours and salt, which is why they taste GREAT, but our bodies can’t deal with them everyday and we will eventually crash like Jonah. Eat them sometimes.

Then the Party foods are for celebrations. Eat them and enjoy them.
Lose the talk about how you’ll have to work it off at the gym tomorrow, let your kids go nuts and make themselves sick, have a party!
But if your life is like mine, parties are occasional events, they happen maybe once a month (although at times it feels like a lot more with kids!!), and our health and waistlines can handle a celebration.
It’s good for the soul too.
These foods deplete our energy, send the kids feral, give us headaches and leave us dehydrated…BUT - If we are eating the everyday foods, the sometimes and party foods are ok, just not everyday.

Food isn’t good and bad, it doesn’t have morality. It’s just food. It will be there tomorrow. And if you’re eating your greens and an apple a day, the odd afternoon chocolate bar isn’t going to give you diabetes or heart disease. It also doesn’t make you bad.

Give yourself a break.

Learn to love your veggies, snack on fruit instead of ice cream, drink water often, but don’t run shrieking at the sight of a magnum.

Next week I’m going to start to give you some ideas about daily allowances for sugar and salt etc, and maybe freak you out a bit with amounts in packaged and fast foods but at least you’ll know which foods fit firmly into which category and which foods you may just decide to do away with altogether. (Or maybe just keep for party time).

One of my choices is soft drink. My kids are point blank just not allowed to have anything beyond the occasional lemonade at a party and they understand why.

But we'll talk more next week.....I'm off to round up the remaining mash and veg so I can smoosh it into salmon patties for tomorrow night.

Lv Jane
©The Family Room 2006

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