The flop proof basic butter biscuit recipe that I love


I have had so many requests for my biscuit recipe, that I thought I would just post it here for everyone to see. It is so basic, so quick and easy that you could get the kids to make their own batch if you had the time and the inclination.

Also, you can add anything you want to this recipe to make all sorts of variations… nuts, raisins, choc chips, coconut – whatever tickles your fancy. I don’t even use my food processor for this recipe, it’s more of a throw in a bowl, and mix with the spoon kinda recipe. Love it.

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  1. Heat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Mix the softened butter with the castor sugar using a wooden spoon
  3. Add egg yolk and vanilla extract and continue to mix.
  4. Sift over plain flour and stir until the mixture is well combined.
  5. Press the dough onto a well floured surface and press out your biscuit shapes.
  6. Place onto a greased baking tray and bake for 12 minutes.

Once I notice the edges starting to turn brown, I take them out of the oven – this is usually just on either side of 12 minutes depending on the thickness of the biscuit. Place your baked biscuits on a cooling rack to harden. Serve with a chilled glass of milk and hide the cookie jar. I swear, you will keep coming back to have another if you do not hide the cookie jar or at least put it in a hard to reach place. They are just that good.

Carla, you can stop nagging me. Please tell me how your biscuits come out 🙂

cookies cooked

 

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Win a Barbie Hamper – with Royal Caribbean International and the Barbie Premium Experience


A few weeks ago, I was invited to the launch of the Barbie Premium Experience exclusive to Royal Caribbean International. It was not your everyday product launch, oh no, this competition will see a local family of four win a cruise fit for a Barbie princess. If your daughter is Barbie verskrik, you have GOT to enter this competition. Like seriously, you have to. I am not even playing with you right now. However, even if your kid is not Barbie verskrik, like my Hannah, you still need to enter. I’m hoping that by the time the prize is drawn I would have indoctrinated Hannah enough. You see, while this is, no doubt, an amazing adventure for a little Barbie enthusiast, it is also a cracking experience for the whole family.

So what’s this all about you ask?

First of all, there’s a free holiday up for grabs. If that doesn’t grab you, then I don’t know what will. Secondly, it’s a CRUISE! Did you know that cruises are becoming THE holiday of choice for families? They are gaining popularity for a number of reasons, here’s just a few…

  1. Cruises are not as expensive as you think. You pay your fee which generally includes EVERYTHING for the duration of your stay on board.
  2. You get to visit several destinations in one holiday depending on where your ship docks and for how long.
  3. Kids have age appropriate full day agendas with activities that keep them well entertained. This is my favourite part – as a mother of two young children, a holiday isn’t really a holiday when I have to see to the kids all day long. However, there are also hosts of activities that both parents and children can enjoy together.
  4. A ship is a very safe and secure environment to holiday and the onboard childcare facilities means that parents can have as much alone time as they’d like, knowing their kids are well looked after.

So anyway, Royal Caribbean International has a new offering: The Barbie Premium Experience package.

“The Barbie™ Premuim Experience package is another product of Royal Caribbean International’s celebrated 40-year legacy of cruising innovation. The experience begins in girls’ Barbie-themed staterooms, where they’ll also find complimentary Barbie™ dolls and other keepsakes.

Their on-board activities include a tiaras and teacups party, featuring a whimsical palate of pink pastries and pink lemonade served on dainty dishes, along with fun tips on table etiquette. There’s a mermaid dance class, where girls will learn moves from the hit movie, Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2.

They’ll then learn to create their very own Barbie-style clothing at a fashion designer workshop. Later they will star in a fashion show, where they will display their fashion creations and perform their dance routine to the admiration and applause of their family and friends.”

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Isn’t that exciting?! I know a lot of little girls who would give up their Barbie collection for this experience.

But wait, here’s the best bit:

“Now, to bring family-friendly cruising to the attention of South Africans, Cruises International, Royal Caribbean International and Blue Horizon Licensing are offering families the chance to win a seven-night Mediterranean Barbie™ Premium Experience cruise for four on board Royal Caribbean International’s Liberty of the Seas, sailing from Barcelona.”

That’s right, from the 1st September until the 24th December 2013, you will be able to enter this competition to stand in line to win this fantastic prize. You will need to buy a qualifying Barbie product at a participating retailer in order to enter. For more details on how to enter and to take a look at what this fabulous prize includes, visit www.barbiecruiseholiday.co.za. Also note, there are other fantastic prizes to the value of R20 000 to be won.

But of course, I know you guys want something to win NOW! So to get you in the competition winning mode, I have a lovely hamper for one lucky little girl to win. The hamper includes:

  • 1 x Barbie Glam black & pink trolley
  • 1 x Barbie Party hamper for 12 girls including:
    • Barbie invites & envelopes
    • Barbie gift bags
    • Barbie lucky packets
    • Barbie cups & straws
    • Barbie serviettes
    • Barbie party hats
    • Barbie Cupcake mix
    • Barbie bubbles
    • Barbie magic facecloths
    • Barbie various confectionary

hamper 1

hamper 2

If you’d like to stand a chance to win this incredible hamper, all you need to do is leave me a comment with the age of your little girl(s) and tell me something amazing about your princess(s). It does not have to be Barbie related at all! We’ll randomly draw a lucky winner on 5th September. Good luck!

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For you with left handed kids…


Can I just start by saying that if you are not accommodating your left handed child in as many ways as you possibly can, I am now officially judging you! Ok, that’s taking it a bit far, but I had such an extreme AHAAAAA moment at the ripe old age of 31, that I can’t help but harp on and on about it to anyone who will listen.

After reading many posts, tweets and statuses on various blogs and websites about left handed scissors, I finally went to Waltons and paid all of R7 for a left handed scissors for Liam. I know he has a special left handed scissors at school, and his teachers have been asking me to get him a special scissors for home too, but he was cutting just fine with the regular scissors at home as far as I was concerned. I myself am left handed and have never needed to use a left handed scissors so I didn’t think it was that much of an issue.

Well.

The other day we were in his room and the tag on his vest was irritating him, so I asked him to get his scissors so I could quickly snip it for him. Automatically I held the scissors in my right hand and had a laugh when I realised I was holding it “wrong.” Even on that one little snip, it felt so… so… right? So I asked for a piece of paper to cut, and it was like AAAHHHHHHHAAAAAAA! It was like a whole new world! I can’t physically put it into words, the feeling of something just being done RIGHT. It’s difficult to explain, it’s like a lightbulb went off in my head. Don’t laugh, it seriously was that awesome.

Now every single time I need to cut something, I ask Liam to kindly lend me his scissors. I could have won paper cutting competitions at school if I had a special scissors, all these years my cutting has probably being mediocre, at best! I am even going to order myself a left handed scissors with the next stationery order at work. It is that serious. I can’t believe that my mother never bought me a left handed scissors, and she was a teacher for goodness sake! Come on ma!! I guess she thought exactly as I did with Liam, that we cut just fine with a normal scissors!

Guys, if your child is left handed please get them a left handed scissors. I can honestly say it makes a whole lot of difference, especially for small little hands I am sure. And now that I think about it, there were so many things that I couldn’t use because I was left handed. The old fashioned one sided potato peeler – until those fancier ones came out, the one I now use in my own house. A tin opener – I have an electric one in my house now. My computer mouse which I only discovered I could change well after years of computer studies at school – I blame the teachers for this one. Oh and while on computers, the number pad on the right really irritates me. REALLY. I use a numeric key pad at work, and place it on the left because I type way faster with my left hand and need a fast finger for numbers!

All I am suggesting is that you look a little closer into the world of your Lefty child, and see how you can help them be even better Lefties. I love being left handed, remember this post on discovering that Liam was left handed? I celebrate it and I love that my son has followed in his mother’s footsteps. We are the only two in our extended families on both sides who are lefties. We are a special pair us two 🙂

As for me, my little left handed spree has just started. I’ve discovered so many amazing products especially developed for lefties. Who says you can’t teach an old lefty new tricks? I’m going to start with a lovely spiral notebook made especially for lefties. No more finger bashing with the regular right handed notebook for me! YAY!

Chiefs versus Pirates: a trip to The Calabash with the kids


I think you all know that my husband is a soccer extremist fanatic. He follows all the leagues, both locally and internationally and it is easy to see that this is his passion. Me – I like a vast genre of things, my interests run deep and wide, and I can enjoy a wide array of activities. My husband? No, just the soccer. Ok, yes there’s the running but for the most part, it’s soccer. Naturally he wants his children, particulary his son, to share this passion with him. We are all subjected to watching soccer at every opportunity, his most favourite thing to do with the kids is to kick a ball outside, he has already inquired about soccer coaching for Liam (and Hannah because she refuses to be left out) to start in the Spring. Soccer is his thing.

For the longest time, he has been nagging me to take the kids to watch a local game at the stadium. Pre-kids, we would go to the stadium often. I really do enjoy the excitement, camaraderie and overall craziness of watching live sport with likeminded people. I can easily watch a 90 minute game of soccer live and enjoy it immensely, so I agreed that it would be a fun outing for the kids. It was a big game, the Soweto Derby – Orlando Pirates versus Kaizer Chiefs – two of the biggest rivaling teams in the PSL.

From the moment we arrived at Soccer City, Soweto, the vibe was evident. I had schooled the kids on the levels of noise to expect and the general mayhem that would ensue but I still think they were shocked at the scene that greeted them!

Can I just say that there’s something about Black people that I just love love love when it comes to sport.. and other things of course. But the intensity with which they celebrate, the complete outpouring of themselves for the teams they support… sjoe! I’ve been to many rugby games and while that vibe is also great, local soccer… guys.. it’s in a league of its own. The spirit is contagious, hugging complete strangers around you when your team scores, dancing in your seat while the supporters on the line lead us all in song, blowing on your vuvuzela in tune to the leader, making different hand gestures in tune to the music – all as one body, in unison… it’s like the Mexican Wave x 100000!!! I get goose pimples EVERY TIME I go to a local game, especially a game of this importance and size. The kids were caught up in the excitement for all of 15 minutes before they were bored. So we fed them. Every time a vendor walked passed, they called him over. They even called the camera guy over and were very disappointed when they realized he was only offering to take their picture.

HIGHLIGHT of the game: there was a man with a PIG’s HEAD… yes, a whole big freshly slaughtered pig’s head in a see through plastic bag. He came up to Hannah and tapped her on the shoulder, she turned around and I jumped on her behalf. She politely said “no thanks” like she does when a street vendor stops us at the robot to sell us something. We were highly amused! Only in Africa hey.

Ok the actual HIGHLIGHT of the game was Pirates winning. You must understand that my husband supports Arsenal. He has become accustomed to losing. So there was much jubilation.

At R40 a ticket, it was a great experience and a fun outing for the family. I still think I’ll wait for the kids to be older to do this on the regular  – I don’t know that all that noise and craziness every weekend is good for them, or me for that matter, but to see the pride on Hubby’s face as he took turns with the kids on his shoulders was motivation enough.

On days like these, I really love South Africa.

soweto 2

soweto 3

soweto 1

I have a Spar Freshline gift voucher for you..


The very nice people over at Spar sent me a voucher to purchase Freshline products, try them out and then blog about my experience. Since moving to Midrand I’ve become a regular at my local Spar because it’s literally in walking distance from my house. And the bigger Super Spar is a short drive away so we have become regular Spare goers. So when I received these vouchers, I was excited because I knew exactly what I was going to use my vouchers on!

Firstly, let me admit that my family and I have a problem. I am ashamed to admit that I brought this atrocity upon my family, because it was passed on from my parents and now I have passed it onto my husband and children. We have this problem which manifests at any time of the day, but usually in the late afternoon and often in the evenings after dinner. And here it is…

We have to have something sweet after a meal. HAVE.TO.

I blame my paternal grandmother who used to have a half a slice of bread with thick apricot jam after dinner every night. I believe it was here that the legacy was born.

While staying with my aunt in London a few years ago, she used to say “the English like something sweet after their tea.” And after dinner she would bring out all sorts of sweet baked goods. I am sure this had nothing to do with the English and everything to do with her mother (my grandmother) who had groomed us with a sweet tooth.

When I  met my husband, he wasn’t really into sweet things. So much so, he’d take DAYS to eat a single bar of chocolate. He’d have a neat little bite every night and place his little chocolate back into the pantry cupboard for the next day. WHO DOES THAT?? He would look at me with mild amusement as I’d rip into a slab of chocolate and easily eat half of it in one sitting. Ok, who am I trying to kid, I can polish a slab in one go, there I said it.

NOW? Oh my sweet tooth. Husband has stopped eating chocolate like a 2 year old and eats a full chocolate bar in one sitting like a man. As soon as the kids are down, it’s Milo time, which of course needs to be accompanied with something sweet. Although I do enjoy baking, I don’t always have the time in the week so I like to make sure we always have something yummy to satisfy the craving.

Even if it’s just a biscuit or a rusk to dunk in my tea. Or a little cupcake with pink frosting. Or a coconut covered lamington. Or a blueberry muffin. Have you guessed what I’m going to spend my Spar Freshline voucher on??

But listen, don’t let me sidetrack you, Spar Freshline DO make the yummiest sweet baked goods, but this range also includes fresh fruit and vegetables and much more. There is something for everyone, here’s what they had to say about their Freshline range:

All Freshline products can be traced from soil to store, ensuring you cook and serve with confidence! This peace of mind promise is backed by our commitment to sustainable farming practices and the fact that all our suppliers are audited in accordance with international food safety standards.

So guys, I have this R300 voucher to give away from the nice people at Spar. All I want you to do is comment with what you’d spend the voucher on. We’ll draw a random lucky number on 28 August at midday. I don’t know about you, but with the price of groceries, I am sure this R300 will come in handy 🙂

 spar

 

Making the most of a sick day


After complaining about having the immunity of an ox and never being able to take a sick day, I got sick. So feeling rather sorry for myself, I left work early on Tuesday afternoon, fetched the kids from school, handed them over to Zoleka, and jumped straight into bed. Zoleka cooked supper, bathed the kids and sorted everything out for me until the Husband came home and took over. I stayed home yesterday and the boredom of being bedridden hit at about 9h05am. I watched some TV, read my book, played on my phone, tried to have a nap, and that was enough. I made myself two soft boiled eggs and toast for breakfast, had a shower and laid down to watch more TV. My body was actually sore from all the laying down. My mother in law arrived from Durban around lunch time and she went straight into the kitchen. She made sugar beans curry with roti for supper. She also made beef stew for the kids. Then she made a massive pot of butternut soup. YUMMY. Then she told me to take out chicken so she could prepare a few other meals. I obliged obediently, thanking the Lord for a good mother in law. Not to be outdone in the kitchen, I decided to bake.

Ok it was more out of boredom and keeping her company in the kitchen, than trying to impress anyone. I baked my regular butter biscuits – these bad boys are so tasty and are always a hit. I’ve tried different variations like adding nuts or flavoured essence, but the basic recipe is always the most loved. And it’s literally just butter, flour, castor sugar, an egg and vanilla essence 🙂 Next time, I’ll double the recipe, you see that cooling tray below, it took about an hour for that quantity of biscuits to be HALVED!

cookies

 

cookies cooked

It’s my daddy’s birthday!


Happy birthday to the best father in the world. My love for you knows no bounds. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to please you. And you didn’t make it difficult. You always supported me and let me make my own decisions, even if they opposed your own ideas. You were the perfect example: a tough disciplinarian but a tender Daddy. You loved our mother and we knew it, because you showed it all the time. You made us laugh, still do. Your grandchildren think you are HILARIOUS. I value your opinion and I trust your advice. Even now, I’m so grateful that I can still use you as my sounding board. Even though time and space separate us, I love to see your name pop up on my cell phone.

Mostly, your love for your children helps me to understand the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. And for that, I thank you. I hope I can be to my children, what you are to me.

On your birthday, I pray that you feel the love that you show to so many. And I pray that you will know how deeply cherished you are.

Thank you for being the best Daddy in the world.

I love you

Your baby girl

R xx

The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering galleries, they are clearly heard at the end, and by posterity. Jean Paul 

My Dad waiting at the finish line for me at Midmar, earlier this year.
My Dad waiting at the finish line for me at Midmar, earlier this year.

Totally easy apple pie.


On Sunday I was wishing for something homemade, warm and sweet. Once I had decided on apple pie, I Googled a few recipes and decided on the Robertsons one purely because it said I could buy the ready rolled puff pastry. That was it. I was sold. The filling was really good, however the Husband found it a bit too tart. Perhaps the Granny Smith’s needed to be cooked down a bit more? Perhaps I had chosen a very big lemon for the “juice of one lemon?” I personally liked that it wasn’t overly sweet, but if your tooth is particularly sweet, I’d suggest you up the sugar and down the lemon in this recipe.

Also, for the size of my regular round dish, I didn’t need the two full rolls of pastry and I only used ¾ ‘s of the bag of apples. I made it while the Husband took the kids for a walk around the neighbourhood – so the process time is really quick and I read a few chapters of my book while it baked in the oven. Easy peasy. You are welcome.

Ingredients

  • 2 Ready Rolled Puff Pastry
  • Filling:
  • 1.5 kg Granny Smith Apples
  • 125 ml Water
  • 125 ml Castor Sugar
  • 5 ml Lemon Rind grated
  • 5 ml Robertsons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2.5 ml Robertsons Mixed Spice
  • 80 g Brick Margarine
  • Juice of one lemon

Instructions

  1. Melt the margarine in a saucepan, add castor sugar, water, lemon rind, juice of one lemon, cinnamon, mixed spice and stir
  2. Cut up the apples and add to the pan, tossing them to allow the mixture to caramelise
  3. Meanwhile, roll out your pastry and cut to fit your pie dish leaving a generous overhang for both the base and the top
  4. Save the offcuts for decoration
  5. Spoon apples into pastry base with the caramelised mixture
  6. Place pastry lid on the pie and twist closed to seal the edges
  7. Make three steam holes with a knife to allow steam to escape
  8. Decorate with pastry offcuts
  9. Brush with egg wash
  10. Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes until pastry is golden

apple pie

The stand-off to end all stand-offs. I hope.


My kids are no angels, they are as angelic as your average three and four year old can be. Not very. Ha. While they can be disobedient, throw tantrums and pretty much disagree with everything I say, they are not bad kids. I don’t think people run the other way when they see us walking through the doors at Papachinos. Well I hope not. I am their mother so I may be biased, but I’d say they are OK kids.

Well yesterday was new parenting territory for me. And if you had seen my kid yesterday, you would probably have made for the door FAST and encouraged you own child to avoid mine at any cost.

So.

I put a blanket out on the lawn and we were enjoying the sun while the Husband cooked lunch. Hannah unpacked a black bag full of beach toys – creating general seaside mayhem, without the seaside. Liam and I were chatting on the blanket. Note: Liam was not playing with these toys. Many hours later, it was time to pack away and get ready for bath time. Even though Liam had not played with the toys, he happily started packing away. Hannah, however, sat on the steps like a boss, and was yelling orders to Liam along the lines of “you missed that one, go pick it up” and “don’t stand on my stuff!” So I came out and instructed her to get off her booty and help her brother. She ignored me. I repeated myself, and she looked at me in my face and turned to watch Liam. The third time, I used my very cross voice and told her to immediately step into action or face the consequences. Do you know this girl child just stared at me with a bored look on her face. At this point I told Liam that he had done enough, thank you very much and he could go bath. There were literally 5 little items left to collect. I could have let him pick them up and be done with it, but I needed to teach some little lady a lesson. I picked her up to standing position and marched her to the toys and told her to pick them up, she walked away. I marched her back, and she turned and walked off again. She started yelling like I’d asked her to pick up five live snakes. I told her AGAIN that she needed to pack away the toys that SHE had taken out, I explained over her shouting that Liam had kindly helped her but that she needed to do her share. I explained that if she didn’t, I was going to punish her. She stood there yelling in my face. I smacked her bottom and then she did the spaghetti-leg-move and fell to the ground like her legs couldn’t carry her. Tantrum time! I walked to the door and could see her peeping at me from under her covered face. I said firmly that I would not let her come in and bath if she did not pick up the toys. She turned over and carried on crying. I closed the door and she jumped up and started pounding the door. I was like WHO IS THIS CHILD?? Liam had never acted out like this before, and neither had she! The doors are glass so we could see each other, but I ignored her and made like I was watching TV. I yelled politely “pull yourself together, pick up the toys and then you can come inside.” She carried on crying. I was starting to get nervous because it was getting cold outside, it was after 5pm and she had been sick the last two days, I was going to have to crack if she didn’t, I couldn’t let my child stand outside in the cold. I mean there was teaching a lesson, and then there was going overboard to prove a point. I was praying that she would just back down and let me win. PLEASE let me win!! After about five minutes, she simmered down but was still death staring me through the door. I went to the door, walked towards the black bag and held it open, willing her to just pack the blinking toys away without saying a word. She obediently started to pick the toys up. Then she said “sorry mama, can I go bath now” and we hugged and she went to bath.

Sjoe!!! Later that evening, when all was forgotten, we were reading stories while she was being nebulised. Suddenly, mid-story, she pulled the mask off her face and said “I sorry, my legs were tired.” So I said oh, is that why you couldn’t pick up the toys? She nodded. I explained in simple terms that sometimes we are all tired but we still have chores and jobs to do – like I have to cook for the family even when I’m tired, or she has to put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, even if her legs are tired, and Daddy has to wash the cars, even when he is tired. And if we didn’t do our jobs, then things would be crazy! And she agreed with that. Then I went on to explain that going off her head like that was not acceptable. She agreed with that too. Then I did a reenactment of her craziness with loud crying and spaghetti legs effects and we laughed about that for a good five minutes. Then the three of us each had a turn to reenact her crazy episode and we took votes on who did it the best. Then Daddy came in and said it wasn’t funny, and wasn’t a joke and that I must stop encouraging bad behaviour. So we all stopped and quietly giggled behind the books we were reading so that Daddy couldn’t hear us.

Ay, I don’t know that I’m doing this right. How do other people handle disobedience and tantrums of such epic proportions that you actually aren’t sure what to do in that moment. People say once you’ve explained to the child, you administer the punishment (however you choose to punish) and leave the child to tantrum it out. But what then? What if the child won’t back down? Then what? Wow, I’ve never had to deal with a child that just WONT.BACK.DOWN before. It’s difficult! And as the parent, to come so far and then to just back down and say “ok, I’ll pick up the toys” after you’ve been through such an ordeal, just doesn’t make sense to me.

What would you have done? How do you handle outright disobedience?

han