Friday, September 29, 2006

Simple Lessons

It’s 11.30pm and I’m sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor wrapping up Samaritan’s Purse shoe boxes in Christmas wrapping paper ready for the school collection in the morning.

My children are asleep happy in the knowledge that mummy is finishing what they started before bed. My husband is lying on the bed upstairs hoping for some action … Buckley’s!!!! I’m tired, and my back’s aching and it was a hassle trudging through Target at 5.30pm looking for lots of little items to include in our shoe-boxes – but worth it – yes!!

After school today, I told my kids, we were going to the shops to buy presents for children overseas who have nothing. They didn’t complain. In fact, they got quite excited.

Buying the gifts was an adventure and surprisingly, no tantrums over coloured pencils or stickers, they would have liked. Oh, only one time when my seven year old said: “mummy these kids have everything now, and we have nothing!” … I have a lot of work to do!!!

Georgia, my four year old really got into the spirit of the shopping, proudly boasting ‘the best box in the world’ to all who would listen. At the end of the shop, we had purchased; Care Bears, undies, socks, pencils, stickers, lollies (which actually don’t fit, so I’ll just have to plough through them myself), hair ribbons and balloons. I can only imagine the squeals of delight when kids in Africa open these boxes. We are also encouraged to pray for them, which we do.

So why did I do it? Because I believe that children should be taught about sharing, caring and helping the poor. And who better to teach them than us! I want my children to be passionate about people, not things - to love what I love – helping those less fortunate. It’s a great lesson.

I have always known about the Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Box campaign and loved the concept A few weeks ago when the organization came to Emily’s school; I jumped at the chance to get involved. Unfortunately I forgot about the deadline – today! Hence the mad dash to Castle Towers this afternoon.

In future, I am going to put ‘giving and helping others’ at the top of my ‘things to do’ list – it’s an important ingredient in helping us to shape children of compassion and character.

Kids who live for the next Barbie doll or Toy car are just kids; children who have a passion to help people are world-changers. It all starts with us!!!

Nicki Partridge
©The Family Room

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Long Weekend...Longer Meal Times...Longer Day Dreaming...Much Longer Family Time!

My childhood could be summed up in a sun drenched 70's polaroid photo. I can't thank my parents enough for the fabulous 'everydays' they created for me and my 8 siblings...yes, that was not a typo...that was 8 siblings! The long weekends, however, were always so much more exciting, knowing that my parents had planned 3 days of absolutely nothing for us. Now, every families ‘nothing’ will always differ. Ours consisted of anything that was legal and safe within the parameters of our block in the leafy streets of Lane Cove. We were not the family who would plan elegant mini-breaks or patronise fancy restaurants on our long weekends. Actually, come to think of it, the fancy restaurants were probably relieved. Nine kids! My mum always encouraged us to create our own adventures with the tools we had in our hand or at our disposal, be it a pen and paper or the tree house at the back of our yard. I remember aching on Friday afternoons until the 3:00pm school bell rang, heralding three days of long weekend bliss, then racing my brother Daniel home from school to see who would be the first to be greeted by mum’s hugs and icy cold Milo’s. We would tear of school clothes off, jump into our ‘adventure’ clothes and head off to the back yard until the call for dinner reached our little ears.

Knowing that both parents were just as excited to be with us for these 3 days of blissful nothing was so reassuring. I was so proud that my parents were known in our neighbourhood as ‘that lovely couple that has an open door and a hundred kids’. They loved our company and we felt it. One of my strongest and fondest long weekend memories was lying on a mattress in our back yard in the sun next to my mum. She smelt of coconut oil and wore a royal blue cheesecloth sundress. I would practice pacing my breathing with hers for hours as I watched her read and held her hand. It’s amazing how some of the seemingly insignificant moments, the ‘nothings’ we share with our children, can be the very moments that get them through the tougher moments of life. That image, complete with the scent or coconut oil has never left me or ceased to bring a smile to my face some thirty years later. Never underestimate the power of the ‘nothings’. They are what kids crave.

As the warmer weather comes sneaking up on us, give yourself permission to sit for a few hours and write down a list of the 'great' times you had as a child. Draw out the creative gem that is in you and re-create some of these for your children. Or call your siblings, invite them around, serve up a childhood meal, play some ‘take me back’ music and laugh about all the old times you shared. Here is a snapshot of my childhood. I hope it inspires you to keep striving as my mum did and never allow a ‘nothing’ moment to mean ‘nothing’.
Running through the sprinkler on the grass
Fish and chips for dinner at the beach
Hunting for cicadas in Liquid Amber trees
Hula hoops
Eating fresh mulberries
The smell of coconut oil on my mum's skin
Blowing dandelions
Treks to the corner store for icy poles
Handstand competitions
Chalk all over the side walk
The Best of Bread...The Beach Boys...Abba...Richard Clayderman
Noisy hot bbq's
Jumping on the trampoline in the rain
Sleeping next to Laddie our golden retriever in the sun
Swinging with our eyes closed
Shell searching for hours
Building sand castles
Snail races
Learning to whistle
Nicking the strawberries off the pavlova
Twirling in 70's smocked sundresses
Laughing at nothing until we cried
TV - Flipper...Sigmund the Sea Monster...The Brady Bunch
Sherbet tubes
Riding my yellow scooter
Camping - Dad's scary stories
Building cubby houses in any room that took our fancy
Hand ball
Knock knock jokes
Icy cold Milo....3 parts Milo....1 part milk
The constant fragrance of fresh linen
Swap cards
Riding our bikes in Centennial Park
Fairy bread
Falling asleep on dad's chest

Thank you Mum and was gold.


©The Family Room 2006

Where it all began

Hi everyone and welcome to the Family Room Blogspot.

Get yourself a cuppa, sit back, relax and enjoy your time with us. Everything on this site has been designed with you in mind. Our hope is that you will leave us inspired, a little more informed and enriched and that you will catch the vision of carving out a great future for you and your family.

How the Family Room came about …

Two year’s ago my friend Michaela Grul and I sat in my living room and chatted about ‘what is a great family.’ And as we talked, we discovered that although we came from vastly different backgrounds; me from rural Canada and Michaela from the suburbs of Sydney; what we valued most about our families was the same. Our love for tradition and the strength that it brought, our parents discipline (although hard at times) so perfect in every way, our desire to build a home not a house and a haven for all who walk across the threshold – there’s so much more but I’ll leave some for you to discover as we begin to connect through this site…..

Inspired by our upbringing and the amazing example set for us, we had many conversations on how to build great families of our own and then how we could share our learning’s with others: We decided that we’d done enough talking it was time to put legs on our dreams and thus THEFAMILYROOM was birthed.

We then did what every girl with a dream does, we shared it with others. Belinda, Sam, Nicky, Annie and Catherine, all busy wives, mothers and girls who understood the dream and importance of committing to this journey - the journey of helping families build their futures….together, devoted to one another.

Today we operate THEFAMILYROOM we are all passionate about the dream, we are committed to the vision of seeing extraordinary families built, relationships established and our communities strengthened. We busy wives; mothers, sisters and friends and our organization is taking the community by storm. Around Sydney we are seeing families aspiring to THEFAMILYROOM principles. Further a field in countries like Canada and Fiji new Chapters of THEFAMILYROOM are being discussed.

We are so proud of what we have achieved - a team of dedicated women, a fantastic core group of people attending our regular meetings, a very successful launch night and an entertaining and informative BLOG spot. But this is only the beginning...

Ultimately our aim is to reach families all over the world through our network of events, newsletters, books and TV programs. The road ahead for us will get more and more exciting as these incredible passionate girls put a stake in the ground for FAMILY.

As the story unfolds, we’ll continue to update you chapter by chapter. We’re having lots of fun, putting smiles on faces and endeavoring to help families like yours carve out amazing futures.

We love you and believe in you and hope that you will bookmark us as one of your ‘favorites’ on your computer. We will be updating the site daily to provide you with more essential tools and tips that will enable you to make a difference in your family immediately.

Susan xoxo

The Family Room is a powerful and much needed response to the growing issues families are facing as the demands of everyday life increase.

Strong families can build strong communities. Studies in Australia and overseas have highlighted the importance of focusing on the question, 'What makes a family strong?' When these strengths are identified and developed, they can become the foundation for continued growth and positive change in a family and beyond.

The Family Room is a team of young mums who are committed to building extraordinary families, developing strong relationships, and strengthening the communities they live in.

©The Family Room 2006


I know you know what I'm talking about when I say 'the joys of school costumes'. Today was my day of the costume, you need to know that I don't sew and I take my hat off to all of you who do because you are MILES ahead of those of us who don't. For those of us who don't sew just the word costume sends our heart racing, our voice moves up an octave and depending on the difficulty of the costume our teeth can either clench or chatter uncontrollably.

Let me share my success story with you......

My daughter returned home from school today with a huge smile on her face informing us that she was named BEST SUSAN COSTUME (it was Narnia day)! Needless to say I breathed a huge sigh of relief and the feeling of joy I felt was and remains hard to explain. I guess it's a mum thing.

Some of you may be reading this and wondering how I accomplished the costume saga. How I didn't find myself at midnight the night before the event scrambling through the house convincing myself that the odd bits I'd pulled together would work. All the while wondering how I was going to convince my 8 year old when she awoke the next morning that this mix and match costume was, in fact, unique and amazing. I would have tried to explain to her how individuality was so important and that it didn't matter that everyone else had well thought out costumes.

I succeeded in this because I chose to make the costume a priority in my day rather than leaving it till the last minute and doing the panicked 'scavenger hunt' I mentioned above. After dropping the kids at school I set out on my voyage to obtain a GREAT costume making sure I didn’t break the bank in the process.

I had discussed the costume with my daughter and understood what she was hoping for. This gave me the head start that I needed. I knew what she wanted not what I wanted her to want - this made my job much easier. Within 2 hours I had all the bits I needed to pull together a fantastic costume.

Much to my daughters surprise when she returned home from school yesterday I had the entire costume ready for a 'try on'. I instantly knew she was happy. Last night as I did my final check on the children, before I finally fell into bed, my heart warmed as I walked into her room and there lay her costume ready for morning.....she was set.

Today I sent her off to school with a confidence that was so pleasing. I realize that it is only a costume but trust me when I say this wasn't just a costume exercise. Today was a day for my 8 year old to grow in confidence, to strengthen within and to continue to trust her mum in the smallest of things. Our connection strengthened because I chose to care and prioritize correctly.

To those of you who are great with costumes keep going. To those of you who struggle in this area I encourage you to make a plan when these projects get dropped on your lap and know that ‘because you care’ will be seen regardless of the end result.

Before I sign off I would like to say a huge thank you to my mother who was and is a GREAT costume maker. You taught me well mum and today all your hours of sewing and creating paid off down the line. Today you impacted your grand daughter you would have been proud of my work.... I love you!


©The Family Room 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Preparing for a NEW season

Hello again it's me...Susan. I hope this entry finds you all really well, enjoying life and loving those in your midst.

To all in the Southern Hemisphere thumbs up to the GREAT weather we've been having. Summer is just around the corner and speaking of summer it's time to prepare our winter hidden bodies for the days ahead. Days filled with cossies/swimmers (that's bathing suits for all the North American's), dresses, shorts and so much more.

As I was thinking about bringing my winter hidden body out I thought it best to start on my feet - they seem to be the first to make the harsh transition. So I did the best thing today..... I got a pedicure and this time I did it differently. I did it in the comfort of my own home. I have a friend Sue who massages me (in my home) and in addition to massage she does pedicures and waxing. Sue covers all the intimate details in the comfort of your own home. Now I've never had a pedicure at home I usually head down to the shops (the mall for the North American's) and plop myself wherever I can get slotted in (I never seem to book ahead.......strange) however this time I thought I'd do it differently and give Sue a go.

Girls I have to tell you this was beautiful. Sue gives the BEST pedicures! It wasn't a 30 minute job it was a 1 hour job at the same price as the shops and I didn't have to go anywhere - it was fantastic. My feet feel like they are singing, they've never felt or looked this good. Thank you Sue I'm no longer worried about leaving dead skin everywhere I walk.....yuk!

I now have to move into more serious areas of my body and make sure I'm 'up to scratch' for summer viewing (not that anyone's going to be looking but you know what I mean). I think a wax is next on the list and for that I will head to my favorite MG's Beauty for that ever so personal touch.

To those of you in the Northern Hemisphere enjoy your Fall moments. Collect some great leaves for us. Maybe you could take some great photos and post them on the site for us to see. There's something incredibly magical about Fall and the scent in the air.

Have the best day everyone. Remind those in your world how blessed you are to see them or talk to them everyday. Also, remember to smile and the world will smile back at you.

Susan xoxo

(for those of you in Sydney if you’d like to book Sue for a massage or pedicure her number is 0415603803. She’s very affordable and is a fantastic person. Go for it.....don’t be scared you won’t regret it)

©The Family Room 2006

Prosciutto & Pea Risotto

2 tbsp olive oil
50g/2oz butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g/14oz risotto rice
150ml/5oz white wine
1.5 litres/2½ pints hot chicken stock
450g/1lb frozen peas
6-8 slices prosciutto chopped into bite size pieces
25g/1oz grated parmesan cheese
handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Sauté onion & garlic in olive oil & half the butter till slightly brown over medium high heat.

2. Add the rice and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually.

3. Add the white wine and reduce the heat to medium low. Stirring continually.

4. Once the wine is absorbed add the stock one ladleful at a time. Stir the rice slowly until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding ladles of stock and stirring the rice until stock is absorbed. Rice should begin to have a creamy texture.

5. Before adding the last several ladles of stock add the peas and prosciutto.

6. Once all stock is absorbed add remaining butter and and cheese and blend gently
into rice. Season with salt & pepper.

7. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

8. Rice should be creamy with a slight bite. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with a smile!

©The Family Room 2006

Grilled Vegetable and Pasta Salad

1 Red pepper (Capsicum) sliced lengthwise & deseeded
1 Green pepper (Capsicum) sliced lengthwise & deseeded
1 Red onion peeled & halved
1 Zucchini (Courgette) halved lengthwise
2 Roma tomatoes halved lengthwise
2/3 cup Kalamata olives
200g salami chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
4 cloves of garlic pressed
1 lemon
2 cups rigatoni pasta
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried coriander (optional)
Olive oil
2 handfuls chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Salt & pepper

1. Pre-grilling marinade: Mix juice of half lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 pressed cloves garlic, 1 tspn oregano, coriander (optional), 1/4 tspn salt and fresh ground pepper. This is the pre-grilling marinade.

2. Toss and coat peppers, onion, zucchini, and roma tomatoes in marinade and let stand.
Grill vegetables in oven at 175 degrees for 35-40 minutes or on BBQ until slightly browned but still firm. (Alternatively stir fry)

3. Refrigerate vegetables to cool then slice peppers, cut zucchini and onion into bite size pieces,
Cook rigatoni al dente & strain under cold running water to cool. Refrigerate.

4. Dressing: Mix juice of half lemon, 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 pressed clove garlic, 2 tsp oregano, salt & pepper to taste.

5. To assemble toss cooled pasta in dressing, then add grilled vegetables and chopped parsley and gently toss to coat with dressing. Add salami, olives and feta cheese.

6. Serve on platter garnished with chopped parsley! Enjoy!

©The Family Room 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pasta for Four

Hey again so here I am ready to share our PASTA MAKING NIGHT with you.

What can I say.... There were four of us involved in the fun - CJ, my 5 year old son, my 18 month old and myself. Now you need to know that none of us are great PASTA lovers. We don't eat a lot of Pasta at home, actually I didn’t eat much pasta at all growing up so I never really got into making it as an adult. The only pasta I ate as a child was our famous Canadian Macaroni and Cheese (with ketchup of course. I still love it but that's probably as far as I go with Pasta). I occasionally cook it for the children if I need a quick meal during a busy week.

I know many of you enjoy your pasta so I thought it would be an interesting little project for us to report on. Plus I was hugely inspired by Jamie Oliver and the 15 minutes it took him to make fresh pasta from scratch with sauce. Amazing!

I can report that we had a lot of fun making it. My son had a ball with the dough, kneading and winding it through the machine. It did take us a little longer than the 15 minutes Mr. Oliver dazzled us with. We were slightly slowed down by my 18 month old wanting to take part - she was however partially satisfied with the raw pasta we gave her during the process. From start to consumption it took us........are you ready.......40 minutes! Now that’s not bad for the first time with interruptions.

I can't say that any of us have become instant pasta lovers but I must say that there is a definite difference between fresh pasta and store bought packaged pasta. We are all in agreement that the fresh is definitely worth the effort. I can't even really say effort because it was rather effortless. I'm not quite sure why anyone would buy pasta after having a go making it. Jamie Oliver was right, it's easy, it's fun to make, the family can get involved and you can make it however you want you just need to be a little creative.

Here's the recipe we used:

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup water
1 egg
1 Tbsp salt

Mix it together
Once it's fully mixed put it on a floured surface and knead it well
Put in the pasta maker and start to wind. Make sure you keep the pasta maker and pasta well floured so it doesn't stick to the machine or together. Keep putting through the machine as per the instructions and desired pasta.

2 cloves of Garlic
1 chopped red onion (red is really good but use brown if that's all you have)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes
Chopped basil leaves
Cook only until heated

Put the pasta in boiling, slightly salted water and cook for approximately 5 minutes (watch it you don't want to over cook). Drain and pour sauce over pasta and mix through serve in individual bowls. Shave fresh parmesan cheese over each bowl and ENJOY.

(PS – don’t be afraid to add something to it – try ravioli with some interesting filling. It may seem like a big job but trust us it isn’t....just have a go)

©The Family Room 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My day + JAMIE OLIVER Live

Hey there. I thought I'd take a moment tonight and tell you about the amazing day I've had.

It started at 6am with a brisk walk (it was really cold this morning so I had to walk really quickly). Shortly after I returned home from my walk my babies started to wake (this is one of my favorite times of the day). The kids wake one-by-one and make their way into our bedroom for a morning cuddle..... Both Philip and I love this time of the day.

After school drop off I headed to a morning 'get together' with some of the mum's from school. It was nice to catch up with them, we have a great class and we really enjoy each others company. We get together about once a term.

After our morning tea I picked up Michaela and we headed into the city to see the
JAMIE OLIVER LIVE show. My adorable hubby bought me tickets to the show.....hint to any hubby's reading this - wise move on my hubby's part.

It was a GREAT show and Michaela and I had so much fun together – we laughed so much my tummy is still hurting. If you have the opportunity to go to Jamie’s show I would strongly encourage you to do so, if not, why not grab one of his books or jump online and make one of his incredible dishes for your family. I’ve been inspired to make some home-made pasta this weekend..... I’ll let you know how it goes :)

Well it’s time to sign off now and get to sleep. Make sure you start posting comments on the site, let’s have some fun with this. I’m sure some of you out there have some great thoughts and idea’s that we’d all like to hear/read so let’s get moving.

I hope your week is proving to be a good one and remember that we love you and believe in each one of you.

Take care and make sure you keep smiling.....the world looks better through smiling eyes!


PS:You can check out Jamie Oliver's site here (
©The Family Room 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

thefamilyroom LIVE update

Hello everyone,

This is just a quick note to say a big thank you to all of you who came out for our first FAMILY ROOM LIVE event. We had so much fun and from your comments and feedback we know you had a GREAT time.

The giveaways (which were fantastic) were to the value of $18,000 on the night. This support came entirely from our community which is amazing. Our local businesses truly understand the power and strength of families and demonstrated that through their generosity.

Our team are already gathering more support for our November 2nd event. Make sure you register yourself and your friends today as seats are limited – remember, the earlier you register the more time we have to plan and exciting program and secure amazing giveaways for the night!

Before I sign off I would like to make mention of two companies I forgot to recognize – I would like to thank them for their incredible support.

Firstly Global Fares and Conferences who generously donated their time and expertise when it came to registering and assisting us with the logistics of the night. I would personally like to encourage you to check out their website and consider using them when you book your next trip - they are our preferred travel agent and we know you will find their service as spectacular as we do. Visit them at

Also, I could tell from the leftovers how much you all loved the incredible cakes we enjoyed on the night. The cakes were generously given to us from our friends at Sweet Deliveries. We have had the privilege of working with Sweet Deliveries in the past and will continue to do so as we move forward, they are quality all the way. Visit their website at and perhaps think about using them for one of your own parties or office functions. That’s all for now girls I hope you’ve all had a fantastic weekend and I hope your week has started strong.

Remember to remind each person in your home how much they mean to you and keep smiling.....every situation looks better through smiling eyes.

We love you, believe in you and hope you’re dancing.



©The Family Room 2006

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