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

Over Scheduling our Kids – Why?

As I sat this week at my daughters swimming lesson watching her learn the butterfly I engaged in conversation with a very nice mother who was also watching her child in the same class. I had been reading a magazine from the newspaper that was full of yummy summer recipes that caught not only my eye but my taste buds as well. I shared a few of the photos and meal ideas with this nice mother which lead into a great conversation between the two of us. It was one of those conversations that makes you think about life and how we spend our time and our children’s time.

During our conversation this mother began to tell me that she wouldn't even dream of preparing any of the food we were looking at due to her intense schedule with the children. She talked of swimming lessons 2 afternoons a week, dance lessons for 2.5 hours 2 times a week (except when they are preparing for a recital when the days usually increase to 3) plus piano and math's tutoring each week and that’s only for one of her two children. Her weekly activities mean that they finally drag themselves into their house at approximately 8pm each night at which time dinner is served. All this for an 8 year old! Even I was tired listening to this intense schedule.

As I listened to the woman I kept turning back to the pool to give my daughter the well deserved thumbs up as she reached the end of the pool - the butterfly isn't an easy stroke. I thought of the involvement my children have which includes swimming, horse riding, piano and soccer however our schedule isn't determined or dictated by these activities, rather the activities fit around our home schedule.

I fit these activities around our home schedule because I believe children need to be children and over scheduling should be reserved for boot camp, the doctors office or the like. Children require down time, they need time to play in the back yard, time to allow their imagination to take them away. They need time to stop and watch the world and all her beauty, they need to be given a net to chase butterflies and a looking glass to investigate the life of an ant. Our children need time to become themselves in these moments, they need to spread their own wings and dance in the sunshine and step in puddles when it rains. They need to make mud pies and scrape their knees from that fall off a bike (we all have that memory on one of our knees). Our children need time to be children.

So my friends don’t allow the pressure of ‘activities’ and ‘over achieving’ to steal your child’s childhood, relax and know that as they dig in the back yard dreams are formed, life is being understood, the days will feel long and warm and this they will remember forever.

Susan xoxo

ps – I look forward to your comments on this.....
©The Family Room 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006

Put Up Your Hand

Put your hand up if you have ever found yourself running late to anything because of misplacing your handbag. I doubt there is one among us that doesn’t have a hand swaying in the air right now!

Well this morning was similar, however, it wasn’t my handbag. It was my daughter’s school bag. True, she is old enough to be responsible for her own belongings now, yet I believe that if I had been just a little more conscious of her today and tomorrow, she would not have started the day in tears.

Eventually realizing that it had been left behind after a visit to her grandparents, we sighed with relief and made a pact to organize her bag including lunch and homework the night before. Of course soggy tomato sandwiches will not feature, but the bulk of tomorrow’s lunch can easily be prepared earlier than 10 mins before the school bus.

Before day light saving hits our doorsteps, endeavour to create a new and improved routine so your mornings will be filled with slow breakfasts with time to read the paper, rather than tears and high blood pressure.

Good luck.
©The Family Room 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Staying Sane During the Toddler Years

Hey everyone I hope you’re all well and enjoying life.

I recently had an email from a friend who is a stay-at-home mum with 3 little one’s all under 4......she’s a busy girl. In her email she shared a few thoughts on the challenges she was facing and I responded with a few very ‘practical’ ideas and thoughts that I believe will help her with this tough season. I thought I’d put these up for you because as I was writing I thought they may very well benefit others.

I hope you enjoy:
•Whatever you do don’t wish these moments away they are precious.
•Stay on top of their little attitudes and pull out their amazing little characters. They will all have their own individual personalities that you need to get used to and understand but pull their character out, teach them how to be GREAT people.
•Don’t second guess yourself. Your children will pick up on this and they will manipulate situations.
•Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Meaning don’t break and ‘give in’. They are clever and know your weak spots.
•Keep going with your discipline and stick to it, try not to chop and change and support each other (hubby’s/partners).
•Also remember that God’s design is absolutely brilliant – remember how you yourself have no real concrete memory until around 5ish well neither will your children. In His almighty wisdom He allowed us a period of Grace or trial and error time I think......however you want to look at it.

Here are a few things you can do/use to keep going during this ‘tough’ time:
•Remind your children (often) how amazing they are and how you are a better person because they are in the world.
•Date your hubby/partner regularly (get a BABYSITTER and go out alone and DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE KIDS – talk about when you first started dating, falling in love, your dreams for the future, etc.).
•When you’re going to loose your temper remember that the word temporary has some of the same letters as temper and whatever you’re freaking out about probably isn’t really worth it.
•Figure out what time of the day is YOURS. You need some alone time so carve that out and use it wisely. For me it’s early in the morning – I like to get up before everyone and go for a walk or to the gym, I then come home, make my coffee and greet the troops. I’m set for the day because I’ve had some very necessary ME time.
•Remember they are little people figuring out life as well – sometimes it’s hard being a two year old with an older sister causing you grief and visa versa. They are on an incredible journey of discovery.
•Give them lots of hugs and kisses.
•Try and organize your day so you have time to play with them. This could be swinging them or walking down your street picking flowers, playing barbies, dress ups or pirates. Whatever the case may be find the little one within yourself and have fun with your children.
•Talk to them not at them.
•Finally (for now anyway) drink lots of coffee and have a stash of chocolate somewhere for when it all goes pear shaped and you just need to relax!

I hope this helps and you’ve enjoyed the read.

Susan xoxo
©The Family Room 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Simple Things That Make a Difference

Hey all just a quick note today to share a simple thought (and some photos with you).

Like many of you I have photos, pieces of artwork, great cards from family and friends and little bits and pieces that I like to keep in view to encourage me (and those in my home) throughout the day. Sometimes I take a moment and just gaze at everything on my cluttered cork board and I find my soul is warmed by all these 'odds and ends'.

The thing that I find a little frustrating is that the cork board that all of these things are located on is rather unattractive and it doesn't really serve as a 'piece of artwork' in my kitchen (see photo below).

So here's what I did to rectify the situation..... My friend Mel makes these incredible MEMORY BOARDS (as she calls them). You've probably seen them around but I promise you haven't seen any until you've seen these. You see Mel has the most incredible taste in fabric and all the 'bits' that go with the board. I promise you they are beautiful - anyone who sees them asks her to make them one - which is exactly what I did.

My little piece of 'life as it's happening' which hangs on my wall is no longer a mish-mash of stuff rather it has become a feature on my wall that attracts everyone's attention. And it was a simple change that made a huge difference in something so necessary in my home. I can't wait to get some made up for my daughters room (her children's boards are exquisite).

Check the before and the after photos and let the evidence speak for itself.

If you are interested in a Memory Board feel free to call Mel on 0410424192. Also, Mel will have some of her products on display at our familyroom LIVE event on November 16th so come ready to pick up a great piece and make a difference with your memories.

Susan xoxo
©The Family Room 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How Will They Remember Me?

In the wake of moving house, I keep stumbling across different sentimental bits and pieces collected over the years. Some things are from my childhood, some from my teens, although most are from my 20’s. Many of these items will become my daughters over the course of her life to either laugh at (fashion magazines from the year she was born) or treasure such as letters from my mother.

Each item, naturally, has a memory attached to it. Some strong,
some so faint that I have to close my eyes to think back, yet the question they all bring to my attention is “What memory will I leave?” If a small metal badge from 1979 can bring hilarious memories and comfort, what more will I bring to my daughter when I am elsewhere? Whether that be at home, while she is studying at university or remembering the days of her youth when I am gone.

So after popping my girl off to bed, I jotted down some questions to ask myself. These are questions we should not only ask once of ourselves, but keep a check on annually, monthly, even weekly. Adjust them to suit your family and see what answers evolve.

•How attractive am I to my daughter? i.e. Is my daughter desperate to hang out with me or does she prefer the company of her friends, their mothers, relatives, etc?

•Do my words keep her hanging for more….Do I actually talk to her or am I finding myself just giving orders or instructions?

•Do I encourage my daughter to dream and stop to smell the roses?

•Am I drawing out the best in her?

•Is the atmosphere in my home comfortable for not only our family, but our friends also?

•Is laughter part of our everyday?

•Do I see the funny side of things or do my feathers get ruffled quickly?

•Can my daughter share anything and everything with me?

•Am I transparent with my daughter?

•Are my words worth writing down…will she want to recall words I speak to her or will she try to forget them because they bring pain?

•Am I choosing to love her more than me?

I was surprised with what I actually wrote down when I took a closer look. I am inspired to try that little bit harder to make my memory not only comforting, but also a legacy for her and her children.

©The Family Room 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


OK, so my husband and I have been invited to Melbourne for Derby Day by his company. Now I have always wanted to do the “Spring Racing” thing, you know frock up and wear the big hat, matching shoes and handbag (I love things that match!) Therefore I was so excited when my hubby said we were going. At last, my first Spring Racing Soiree!! In the shopping capital of Australia!!!

The thing is we are going for two nights. TWO NIGHTS!! What about the kids???? I haven’t been away from them for that long ever! I like to be able to see what they are doing all the time. I know it’s crazy! I think it is because I’m scared of what they might do when I’m not there. For example, recently they were asked to go over a friends place for a play after school so before I left them I gave them the rundown - 1) Remember your manners 2) Be kind 3) Take off your shoes 4) Look after other peoples things etc. The one I forgot was “Don’t put your friends Mum’s undies on”. My daughter 6 found a pair of the Mums G-String that had blown off the line, she then gave them to my son 8 who put them on (over his shorts, thank God!). The Mum didn’t fill me in on the story, it was the muffled laughter I could hear from the back seat on the way home in the car that gave them away.

My husband and I had a great laugh about it but I was a little embarrassed and wondered what the Mum thought of me. Which I guess says more about me than my two angels who in there own words were “just having fun”. So I am now trying to decide which trusted friend or family member can I leave my babies with who can deal with any unexpected incident without holding it against them or me!!

My second dilemma and maybe even more importantly is – do I wear the fascinator with the halter neck dress or the hat with elegant dress??
Your comments would be appreciated!

©The Family Room 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Say Hello to Jane, our Resident Nutritionist

Hey Girls!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Jane Kennedy and I am a Nutritionist currently working in the field of Health Promotion, which is great fun, especially as I get to do it in Fiji!

I have a lovely 9 year old girl (who is the most fabulously dramatic person I have ever met apart from myself at her age) called Giorgia – Gigi – and a 7 year old yummy, handsome boy called Jonah.

I am married to a hot chocolate man who drags me around the world with his job - I’m not complaining - and together we are navigating the unchartered territory (for us) of marriage and family on the move.

We have been away from Sydney for 2 and a 1/2years but I have watched and listened expectantly to the creation of the Family Room in the hearts of Susan and Michaela. I am very excited to be apart of it.

I will be chatting with you on the blog each week about all sorts of Nutrition related topics like Nutrition for busy mums, healthy lunches, reading food labels, and Nutrition for PMS (isn’t that chocolate?), pregnancy and exercise….and loads more, including learning to be comfortable with food (a BIG one).

You will be free to ask me questions, which I will do my best to answer the following week. I will also provide a list of Nutritionists and Naturopaths in the Sydney area who you could go and see if you needed further, personalised advice.

Nutrition is such an important part of staying strong, feeling good and preventing disease. It also has such an impact on our kids’ behaviour and their little bodies’ resistance to nasty bugs and germs.

Instinctively, you’re probably already sneaking veggies into everything and feeding your kids well, while trying to make sense out of all the advice out there. I’m simply going to put some tools in your hand so that when you hear ‘reduce fat’, ‘cut down on the sugar’, ‘avoid MSG’, you have a clearer idea of how to put that into action.

You can relax though, I’m not afraid of carbs, I love pizza and chocolate and am partial to odd glass of vino, I just eat loads of good stuff too and have learnt that it’s not all or nothing.

Looking forward to the ride….wish I could be there for Christmas with the Girls,

Lv Jane
©The Family Room 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

Entertaining Solo

Over the years I have watched my single girlfriends attend parties rather than throw them. I have differed because the hostess in me can’t be held down, yet watching the hostess in many of my girlfriends lay low seems so unnecessary.

So just before you decide that couples have cornered the market on the summer dinner parties, think again!

The weather is becoming more and more gorgeous by the day and the smell of summer is irresistible. Whether you find yourself inexperienced in the world of entertaining, fearful of opening your ‘my decorator is out of town’ house or you just need to boost your shindigs, read on.

I have listed a few stellar ideas for the summer season that will have your friends and family knocking on your door a little more.

Decide that you are not an ‘attendee’ of life, yet you are the girl that makes it happen. So dust of your barbeque, get out your address book and get going!

Before we get started, always set a budget for each night, and DO NOT deviate. You will have a much better time at each event, knowing that you can put petrol in the car for the next two weeks rather that admiring the unnecessary Dolce & Gabbana placemats you just ‘had to have’.

• Flora - The beauty of summer is that nature does most of the decorating for you. If you have a great garden or courtyard, decide to have dinner alfresco. If not, grab a big bunch of your favourite flowers to display inside.

• Décor - Don’t ever panic that the chairs or plates don’t match. Just give your party an eclectic theme. If you have a collection of old plates, give everyone a different one.

• Lighting – I am a big fan of fairy lights. Use them whenever you can, don’t follow the unwritten rule that December is the only time they can shine! If you prefer tea lights and have no tea light holders, use old glasses, teacups or saucers. On their own, they may look odd, but huddled together in the centre of the table makes a gorgeous glow.

• Drinks – Invest into a drinks tub. My parents always use their laundry tub, but if you haven’t had time to do the laundry, you will need an alternative. Throw in a few bags of ice and you’re set.

• Music – Burn a great collection to play throughout the evening. That way the DJ in you won’t tire having to change discs a hundred times.

• Food – Keep reading THE FAMILY ROOM blogsite for summer recipes that are affordable and oh so easy. When your friends offer to bring something, allow them to. Drinks and snacks are suitable.

• Dress – Whatever you feel great and comfortable in, wear! Take time and make an effort, you are so worth it! That goes for your home as well. Tidy up and let some fresh air in before the night.

• Extra’s – Think of things your guests may need to enjoy their stay. Have a cute box on display with some or all of the following: sunscreen, Aeroguard, flip flops, beach towels, hats, sparklers or bubbles for guests with kids, etc.

• YOU – Don’t forget that the primary reason people are visiting your home is for you. Yes spend time on making the experience great for them, but don’t forget to shine. Hop out of the kitchen and sit and chat with everyone. Have fun!

PS – Don’t forget THE FAMILY ROOM LIVE…CHRISTMAS WITH THE GIRLS on 16th Nov! To register call 1300 886 283. Seats are limited, so book yourself and your friends in today.

©The Family Room 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Laundry Room… Our New Morning Coffee Spot!

Last week I was inspired to help my dear friend organize her laundry. Actually the word ‘overhaul’ was racing through my mind as although my friend’s laundry was fairly functional, washing was much more of a chore with the room looking like a train wreck.

The look of a room can change your perception of what needs to happen in there. For example, we are more likely to have people over when the house is tidy. With some great simple tips listed below, you will realise how different a room can look with a lick of paint and some TLC.

Taking just over a day in total (in between the regular making of lunches, nappy changing, swimming lessons, dinner preparation, etc) the laundry now looks and feels fantastic. So good in fact, we had our morning coffee in there while loading the washing machine the next day! Have a go, set a small budget, invite a girlfriend over to help and let the Martha Stewart in you out.

• If painting is an option, choose a colour that brings a ‘fresh’ feeling to the room. For example, I personally wouldn’t enjoy washing linen in a dark brown room with burnt orange curtains!

• If the laundry is a place you frequent often, hang some fun pictures of your children or friends around the room. Even your children’s artwork will look fabulous framed and hung.

• Have a basket for odd socks, that way they will always find their partner. Just don’t let it build up to the point where you’re entire family can only wear flip flops for a week. Pairing socks was my job as a child (not forgetting I was one of nine!) and that didn’t kill me, so delegate this job to one or all of your children.

• Have another basket for clothes that need mending. At the end of the week, fortnight or even month, sit down with a cup of coffee, your favourite relaxing CD (try the new Norah Jones!) and get out a needle and thread. Otherwise invite a family member or friend over who actually CAN sew and make a night of it. Whilst they sew, you give them a pedicure.

• Not all laundry rooms have space for more than one dirty washing basket, but if you can make it work have 3 baskets. One for whites, one for darks and colours, and one for woolens and extra care items.

• Always arrange products and supplies according to how you use them. Make sure that everything is easy reach for you (not your children). So if that means adding a shelf, do so. A trip to Ikea will not break the bank.

• Cleaning agents used seldom should be placed in a box or out of site. Why display a collection of fluorescent bottles/containers that don’t match.

• Try not to double up on detergents, etc. Not only are you saving money, but space in most laundries is limited.

• Keep a drip dry rack either fixed to the wall or door or have one that is mobile. Not all items can go in direct sunlight or a tumble dryer.

• ALWAYS fold the ironing board away. It will help you maintain space and keep the area tidy. If the ironing board remains up, 9 times out of 10 it will become a storage bench.

• Wherever you iron, install a rod or hook to hang clothes as you go. That way the job of putting away clothes is almost done.

• If you have the luxury of extra space in your laundry, utilize this for storing car cleaning products, candles, gardening tools, beach paraphernalia, etc.

You’ll be enjoying your morning coffee in your laundry in no time.

©The Family Room 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Great Holiday Ideas

I’m sitting in my kitchen with the patio doors open enjoying the incredible weather we’re having, the sky is blue, the breeze is fresh and the birds are singing….it’s a gorgeous day.

My eldest is sitting at the other end of the table totally engrossed in her painting all the while keeping a very interesting conversation going with me. My son is eagerly looking through a kid’s magazine deciding what he will and can do with a cardboard box. My littlest one is sound asleep for her morning nap but will be up soon, ready for action with the others.

Today has been a day of ‘figuring out what to do’ the ideas are endless, the fun never ending however there is thought required on my part and sometimes that can be the hard part. During the school holidays, we as parents, are forever listening to comments like:

‘There’s nothing to do around here.’
‘I’m bored.’
‘What can I do now.’?

And the list goes on. So, in an effort to try and help you we thought we’d put together a few ideas that you may find interesting and may assist you survive the last week of school holidays.

We hope you enjoy these ideas and if you have any other great ones please send us a comment and share with everyone.

Take care and enjoy your time together. Remember to remind each other how much you love one another.

Susan & Michaela

For the small fries:
oSet up a table and chairs outside, take the dress ups out, the crayons and paper, give them their own space where they can paint, eat, dress up, throw things around and not destroy your lounge room.

o Pull out some paints and let them create a handprint piece of art that you will be able to keep for a lifetime.

o Set up a tub of water and let them play with their bath toys outside.

o Have a Teddy Bear picnic in the back yard.

For the 5 – 8’s:
o Sidewalk chalk – let them arrange a parking lot; write notes to family members or guests.

o Bake a cake but don’t use the mixer. Get them to count their stirring time, start with 100 stirs – you determine how well mixed you want the cake.

o Take all your instruments outside (recorder, drums or pots and pans, tambourine, etc.) and let them start a marching band either on their own or with the neighbours.

o Plant some flowers or a herb garden

o Give them a list of 12 things to find in the back yard eg:

feather leaves from
2 different trees
6 sticks
an old straw
paddle pop stick
a piece of rubbish (we all have some)
10 different rocks
bark from a tree

o Grab a disposable camera and let them document the day – you will need to give them guidelines as the camera could be used up in 5 minutes without your guidance.

o Give them a cardboard box and give them a few suggestions – maybe a TV or a puppet theatre. Arm them with some glue, paint, paper, markers and let them be creative.

o Set up a lemonade stand at the end of the driveway.

o Read a good book.

For the 9 – 12’s:
o If you have a cubby house run a power cord from the house to the cubby/playhouse and let them listen to their music in the cubby/playhouse.

o Play a game of basketball (1 on 1) or just practice their shooting skills.

o Bake something.

o Fix up an old bike – put a large wheel on the front and a small one on the back and make a chopper like bike.

o Help get the yard ready for summer (or winter for some).

o Encourage them to write a play, gather the little one’s in the house or the neighborhood and produce it – this allows them to discover their creativity and develop their leadership skills......

o For girls....set up a mini-spa at home. Use a bed for the massage table and another room for the foot spa and manicure area. Allow yourself to be pampered once the treatment areas are arranged and products in place.

o For the boys....why not let them get the tent out and set it up in the backyard in preparation for a sleep out. Make sure you give them the instructions and let them see a project unfold in front of them. Give them a few dollars to go to the corner store and get themselves some camp out munchies. Be ready to roll out your sleeping bag with them (or encourage hubby to do so).

o Scrapbook

o Read a good book

For the teens:
o Let them host a dinner party for the family. They can cook whatever they want. Give them a grocery budget and be their kitchen hand when it comes time to prepare.

o Let them invite 8 friends over and host a ‘hang out day’. You provide all the food and let them relax and enjoy their company. You will be amazed at how much laughter you’ll hear and how grateful your children will be. Allow your home to be a place of fun.

o Change their room around – maybe even let them paint it.

o Have an 80's movie marathon. Rent as many 80's movies as you can find and watch them all day. Do the same thing for other decades.

o Scrapbook

o Design some t-shirts or something cool to give their friends for Christmas.

o Research something on the Internet that they are interested in.

o Grab the family video camera and make a short video using imovie or a similar program.

o Read a good book.
©The Family Room 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

You've Got to Watch This

PUTTING LIFE INTO PERSPECTIVE - A must read for everyone......5 minutes that will change your life (it looks long but it’s SO worth it)!

Most of you who know me well know that I try and find the joy in everything, that I will search for the silver lining whatever in every situation. I am a strong believer in being positive and how positive thinking changes our perspective on things/life.

My sister sent me this story and video and encouraged me to persevere and read through the entire story and then watch the video. I’m so glad she did because I think I’ve just read and watched one of those things that I believe may have just changed my know those defining moments – well I think I’ve just had one as a person. I’m inspired by how this father took a seemingly impossible situation with his son and turned it into greatness and established a relationship with him that so many desire. They share no spoken words yet their bond is strong, their love is deep.

Girls reading this share this with your hubby’s and men in your world, allow this story of triumph to encourage those in your world. I hope you are touched as deeply as I have been.

To Rick (the father in the article) I would like to say thank you for making a difference in the world and for challenging each one of us to be better people.

To the story now..............the video link is at the end of the story

Strongest Dad in the World

[From Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly]

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots. But compared with Dick
Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a
wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars -- all in the same day
(doing the Ironman Triathlon). Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S.
on a bike.

Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right? And what has Rick done for his father? Not much -- except save his life.

This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and
unable to control his limbs. "He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life," Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months
old, "Put him in an institution." But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick
was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. "No way," Dick
says he was told. "there's nothing going on in his brain." "Tell him a joke," Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a lot was going on
in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally
able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!"

And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do
that." Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he
tried. "then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks." that day changed Rick's life. "Dad,"
he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!" And that sentence changed Dick's life.

He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon. "No way," Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another
marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following year. Then somebody said, "Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?" How's a guy who
never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick tried. Now they've
done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii. It must be a buzz kill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an old guy
towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think? Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? "No way," he says. Dick does it purely for "the awesome feeling" he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992 -- only 35 minutes off the world record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time. "No question about it," Rick types. "My dad is the Father of the Century." And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95% clogged. "If you
hadn't been in such great shape," one doctor told him, "you probably would've died 15 years ago." So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass.,
always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's
Day. That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy. "The thing I'd most like," Rick types, "is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once."

Here's the video....
©The Family Room 2006


I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the "GOOD" living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment realizing that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."

There would have been more "I love you's".....but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute.....look at it and really see it ... live it.... and never give it back.

Hey girls, our life is not over .... There’s still time to enjoy life!
©The Family Room 2006

Sunny Days, Barbeques, Food Ideas and Fun!!!!!!!

Hey all here are a few thoughts for meals for this weekend. The weather is supposed to be nice so I thought a few BBQ ideas would be fun. These are so easy so go for it. And remember your grocery lists are included so simply copy, paste, print and away you go.

Garlic & Lime Chicken
All you do is marinate chicken breasts in Garlic & either freshly squeezed lime or lime juice (whatever you have on hand). Marinate them for about 30 minutes and then pop them on the BBQ.

Serve with boiled rice and a very simple green salad (cos lettuce, red onion, cucumber, grape tomatoes)

Grocery List:
6 chicken breasts
Fresh garlic or minced prepared garlic
Rice (if you don’t already have some)
Lettuce (cos lettuce – you want something crunchy)
Red onion
Grape tomatoes

Tim’s 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!

Grocery List:
1 Red pepper (Capsicum)
1 Green pepper (Capsicum)
1 Red onion
1 Zucchini
2 Roma tomatoes (they’re the egg shaped tomatoes)
Kalamata olives (the black ones)
200g salami chopped
Feta cheese
1 lemon
2 cups rigatoni pasta
Dried coriander (optional and I haven’t included the dried oregano because most of us have it in out cupboard)
Fresh flat leaf parsley

A Desert Idea for the Family
The Sundae Stack:
Ice Cream
Sponge Cake
Chocolate Sauce
Nuts if there are no allergies if allergies crush up some Oreos or chocolate chip cookies.

Choose your own fillings and layer your sundae dish (or water glass if you don’t have sundae dishes) with all the toppings. To add a bit of fun do it at the table (put all the toppings in the middle of the table and go for it) when your finished your masterpiece swap it with the person on your left. This just adds a bit of joy and makes it careful there could be tears. Have fun!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hostess in the Making

Okay, so I have been accused on more than one occasion of being a little sentimental. I am not the type to save every last piece of memorabilia, invitation, lock of hair, movie ticket, etc, however I will not deny falling into the ‘Schmultz’ category from time to time. Of this I am proud, as my family and friends have grazed on a delightful feast of memories and good times as a result.

Part of the ‘Schmultz’ rituals would be hosting a house warming party. These are the occasions that can establish so much more than a fuller pantry or an odd collection of potted plants.

Having recently moved myself, I will be expecting my nearest and dearest to attend our house warming this Saturday night. I know this will be an opportunity to reinforce some firm family guidelines for hosting as well as creating great memories and traditions for my 12 yr old daughter, who is currently in training in the ‘hosting’ department. Her ‘privilege’ when we host dinners is to set the table which has proved to have killed two birds with one stone….she gets to exercise her hilariously original creative flair (always a great conversation starter) whilst giving her a chore to own and be solely responsible for. The look of pride and achievement on her face is priceless when a guest comments on the table.

I have written before on the power of the ‘nothing’ moments. Don’t let parties slip by with the kids placed in front of yet another video. Grab the ‘nothing’ opportunity of them just being present and watching how you conduct yourself and present your home in the company of guests. Of course, not all gatherings a designed for children, so please exercise wisdom.

It’s amazing how much they will watch and absorb in these fabulous years of their lives. Although the list below seems extensive, with enough practice, it is actually possible. Read through, write some down, apply them and see what emerges in your young charges. They are so capable when given the chance.

Things my daughter has and will continue to learn:

* This is her house…in no way is she a guest.
* Her opinion counts…who but a child knows exactly where fairy lights should go!
* Helping mum in turn helps her experience. An unfrazzled mum is such a nicer host.
* Friends are important enough to dress up for, decorate for and get excited about.
* How to meet and greet our guests.
* Acceptable partying behaviour.
* Understanding that planning and effort is required if you want a desired result.
* To think outside of herself… if younger children are coming, provide toys… if elderly members of the family are coming, provide a cushion on the most comfortable chair… if vegetarians are coming, provide appropriate food, etc.
* Who the trusted guests in our home are and which rooms they can and cannot enter.
* To be proud of her home, no matter what the size, design or décor, knowing people not things make a home.

Whatever the occasion, whether it’s a house warming, a family reunion, a barbeque, or a birthday party, know that little eyes are watching you from start to finish. Yes, that means cleaning up afterwards too! Let them join in, allow them a little more room to ‘warm’ your home. In the years when they have flown the coup, you will thank yourself for letting the party decorations look ‘different’ than in the magazines, the name tags to be spelt incorrectly in hot pink glittery pen, drinks served in egg cups and my personal favourite My Little Pony paraphernalia lining the driveway ‘because it looks pretty’! You will smile, and wish that you had let them do it more often.


ps – I will let you know how the house warming goes!
©The Family Room 2006

F.A.M.I.L.Y. true

ODE to Family – make sure you take a moment and read will stop you in your tracks and your day will be changed.

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."

Do you know what the word FAMILY means?
©The Family Room 2006

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Christmas with the Girls

Hello everyone this is just a quick message to let you know that CHRISTMAS WITH THE GIRLS is almost here!!!!! Mark your diary now...... NOVEMBER 2ND 7PM-9:30ish.

This event is going to be even better than the first one. We’ve been working really hard getting everything ready for you and now we need you to book yourself and your friends in. The earlier you book the more time we have to put the final details in place so why not call today and secure your space. Also, remember we have tables of 10 available so think of 9 other girls (your mum, sister, aunts, girlfriends or your neighbour) and make it a great night out together.

If you’re anything like us (and we know you are) you are incredibly busy and booking your seat gets put to the bottom of the list every day yet the thought of booking continues to plague your mind. So girls take a moment now and call Global Fares on 1300 886 283 to book (truly it will take about 5 minutes and then it’s done). You really don’t want to miss out.

We can’t wait to see you,

Susan, Michaela & team
©The Family Room 2006


After many requests I have decided to post this recipe. I can’t take any credit for finding it however indulging in it and enjoying every bite I can!!! This recipe was found by our resident chef (aka Domestic Goddess Samantha Cosatto) and it’s origins are from the one and only Bill Granger. We have a few favorites at the family room and Jamie and Bill are two of our tops!

The recipe is for CARAMEL CHICKEN and it is simply delish. Remember ALL the recipes we give you are tried and tested and have passed all palette testing within thefamiyroom (meaning hubby, children and guests.......).

Here we go:
8 Chicken thigh fillets, skinless chopped in half
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
freshly ground black pepper
60ml (1/4 cup) dark soy sauce
115g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) fish sauce

Place the chicken and oil in a large bowl and toss to combine. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat until hot. Add the chicken, in two batches, and cook for 2 minutes on one side until lightly brown, turn and cook for another minute. Remove from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add a little extra oil if needed. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return the chicken to the pan, sprinkle liberally with black pepper, add the soy sauce and stir to combine. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to high, add the sugar and stir to combine. Cook uncovered for 3 to 4 minutes, for until the sauce is rich, dark and syrupy. Add the fish sauce and stir to combine. Place in a serving dish and serve with steamed rice and green vegetables.

Serve with Steamed Rice and Green Veggies

Green Veggies:

You can either steam these or lightly stir fry in a tablespoon of oil and garlic – either way tastes great.
Be adventurous with your veggies there is more to life than green beans, frozen peas and iceberg lettuce.

To make life easy for you and to take the headache out of meal planning we have included a shopping list for this meal (we will do this for all of our meal recipes). All you need to do is simply cut, paste, print and away you go to the shops armed with everything you need for a healthy, substantial meal that will make you look like a total legend at home.

Grocery List:
8 Chicken thighs
1 red onion
1 bulb of garlic
Dark soy sauce (if you’ve run out)
Fish sauce (this is a great ingredient to have on hand – it’s becoming more and more popular so don’t hesitate to buy. It keeps in the fridge for sometime).
Broccoli (Chinese or normal – Chinese is the long skinny one)
Snow peas
Baby Bok Choy

Enjoy and remember to share this with friends......everything tastes better when it’s shared :)

Susan xoxo

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Okay girls do I have a story for you today.

I've been extremely interested in net lingo (internet language) as it seems to be a language all to itself. I recently heard Dr. Phil talking about this language which made me realize that my knowledge was limited in this area. I know the regulars like LOL (laugh out loud) and ta-ta-4-N (ta ta for now) and 4Eva (forever), BF (boyfriend), BFF (best friend forever), SO (significant other) and that's about it for me. My limited knowledge has probably already astounded some of you.

Dr. Phil started me thinking about this and then I was again challenged when I read something recently that included POS which to my surprise means Parents over Shoulder. Now I don't need to be hit over the head to know that certain things are calling my attention and require a little more research as this did. I got online and was absolutely shocked at the language that's out there.

I am in TOTAL agreement with Dr. Phil, there should be a ZERO TOLERANCE policy in our homes when it comes to communication. This 'net lingo' ostracizes parents from children and allows our children/teens/young adults to enter into an unsafe world away from our protection. We have no idea who they are communicating with and what they are communicating about.

I encourage you to keep your computers in an open area in your home, limit access
time and check your history file regularly. Keep your children and teens safe. As much as they want privacy on the computer it must be used like the old ‘party line’ telephones. Zero Tolerance when it comes to ‘net lingo’.

I have prepared a little sample for you to interpret. Try your skills and see how you go with our ‘net lingo’:

Hey how RU? RU MorF? RU SorG? LMIRL. WYCM. AEAP. Got2 go P911. PIR.


Hey how are you? Are you Male or Female? Are you Straight or Gay? Let's meet in real life. Will you call me. As early as possible. Got to go, parent alert. Parent's in room.

I’m sure most of you are shocked by what you’ve just read – so was I. I knew this language was out there but to the extent that it is I couldn’t believe. You could learn a totally new language through ‘net lingo’......very scary.

For more information and to educate yourself on this language visit You’ll be surprised. Don’t think your children are to young or to old to check this out. Keep yourself informed and ahead of the game.

I hope this has been helpful.

Susan xoxo
©The Family Room 2006


Our Partners:

A huge thank you to the companies that chose to partner with us.

We understand that as the year comes to an end companies experience 'donor fatigue' however those that partnered with us really understood our vision for FAMILY and gave freely. Make sure you visit these companies and let them know that you appreciate their support of thefamilyroom.

PS: Click on our partners company names on the sidebar, visit their website and see all that they have to offer.
©The Family Room 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fifteen Christmas Salad

Okay friends I HAVE to share this recipe with you. It comes from my Jamie Oliver experience and I've made it twice now for guests and it's simply amazing and so easy to make.

Have a go and let me know what you think about it. Remember, it's super easy to make and it looks fantastic.

FIFTEEN CHRISTMAS SALAD - it's called the Christmas salad but don't limit it's appearance to's to good!


4 x 100g/ 3.5oz balls of buffalo mozzarella
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon
4 peaches, peeled and sliced into 1.5 inch thick discs
2 handfuls of rocket, washed and dried
1 treviso or radicchio, roughly torn, washed and dried
A small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
1 x lemon oil dressing recipe (see below to make)
4 slices speck (smoked prosciutto)
A small handful of freshly shaved parmesan cheese
Aged balsamic vinegar

for the lemon dressing

3.5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
10 tablespoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


(okay I've slightly modified this because I couldn't get everything he suggested and I did it slightly more rustic you could say!)

Jamie suggests using individual salad plates - feel free to do this or make it as a large salad to pass around. If you make it as the ‘passing salad’ then make sure you have two dishes - a prep dish and a serving dish. This keeps everything looking nice.

Here we go.....

Tear the balls of mozzarella into rough chunks (about 4 chunks/ball)
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grate over lemon zest (be generous with the lemon zest)

Add your fruit - don't be limited by peaches, they aren't in season here right now so I used strawberries the first time and kiwi fruit the second and both were equally as pleasing. Be creative.

Take your washed rocket and treviso or radicchio (if you have it) and mix. I didn't have treviso or radicchio (couldn't find it) so I used fresh English spinach and again it was perfect. Mix it up with the mozzarella and fruit. Add your mint leaves and speck as well (tear the speck don’t be friendly, you want it to look a little rough).

In a separate bowl make the dressing and mix well. Make sure you taste it to make sure it's nice - always do a taste test with dressing and keep playing until you get it right.

Now comes the fun part. Pour the dressing on and get your finger in and do a little dance. Use your fingers to gently get the dressing throughout the salad - you want it on the fruit, the speck , the want it throughout but be careful not to 'bruise' your leaves. Be gentle.

Serve with shaved parmesan and a drizzle of aged balsamic (if you don't have aged balsamic just balsamic will do).

Serve immediately. Enjoy it's REALLY tasty.

Next time I make it I will take a photo and share it looks fantastic.


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