Wholesome Zucchini Soup

I love the way the seasons change how we eat. It’s winter here in Australia and we are enjoying lots of soups and tagines. I think soup is the ultimate comfort food in the colder months. Served with some crusty bread, it’s perfect for lunch or dinner and it it’s an instant mood booster. This zucchini soup is one of our favourites, which is amazing as the kids are not too keen on green vegetables most of the time. Try this one. It’s a winner!


1 medium brown onion

2 cloves garlic diced

6 large zucchini, diced

4 large potatoes, diced

Vegetable stock (1-1.5 litres)

A big handful of parsley, finely diced

Salt & pepper to taste


1. Chop up the onion, garlic, zucchini and potatoes.

2. Sautee onion and garlic for a few minutes over medium heat in large saucepan.

3. Add zucchini and potatoes to saucepan and sweat for a few minutes

4. Pour in vegetable stock and slowly bring to the boil

5. Simmer uncovered for about 15-20 mins or until vegetables are soft

6. Season with salt and pepper and add half of your chopped parsley

7. Allow to cool before transferring to blender, or use hand held stick blender to puree.

8. Add remainder of parsely to soup if your kids don’t mind it being visible!

9. Serve with crusty sour dough loaf or bruschetta, or my silver beet frittata!

Be sure to follow NASD on Facebook and together let’s celebrate the messy, mundane and momentous moments of parenting.


Kids make mess. THIS is how you can control it.

Mess. It comes with raising little people. Only you have know idea how much mess they are capable of creating until you’re in the thick of it. With three children six and under I am, most definitely, in the thick of it!

In the early years I tried to maintain some control over my home. When I just had a little baby, I thought SHE generated a lot of mess. How wrong I was! When she became mobile, right about the time my second was born, I relinquished all control. I thought two kids made a whole lot of mess. Wrong again. The real mess was yet to come. When my third little one arrived on the scene my older two became interested in craft (read: MESS). Scissors were Miss A’s exciting new toy and cutting up sheets of paper into tiny bits of confetti was her favourite activity. (more…)

Banana, coconut and chop-chip muffins

I love a good muffin, don’t you? Possibly the yummiest muffin recipe i’ve ever tried is this Blueberry-licious muffin, but these come a close second.This recipe is about as easy as it gets. You can make ’em small, or make ’em big. I made a big batch recently and made mini sized ones for the kids (great for the lunch boxes) and adult size ones for the grown ups. Give this a go – it’s a crowd pleaser. (more…)

My miscarriage mattered. All miscarriages matter.

Statistically, I was “due” for a miscarriage. It happens to one in four women in Australia. But after three healthy, complication-free pregnancies, I never considered miscarriage to be a real threat. I had conceived naturally and with ease and felt very “compatible” with pregnancy. Foolishly, I didn’t think it would happen to me.

The conception of our fourth baby took a long time. Not in practice, but in reaching the decision. Being one of five daughters and blessed with a rich, vibrant and noisy family life, I yearned for a big family, but my husband needed some convincing. After a yearlong discussion of “should we or shouldn’t we?” we decided to roll the dice one more time. And to my delight it rolled in our favour.

My initial excitement at the possibly of a pregnancy was tempered by the imminent death of a close family member. In a collision of emotions, I delayed testing to give space to my grief. I couldn’t celebrate one new life while mourning another.

Just beneath my grief lay a thin layer of hope. My body gave me early signs of pregnancy but I waited until after the funeral to do a test. We went to yum cha with the kids for mothers’ day and then I felt ready to receive a gift of my own. My heart beat a little faster as I saw the second line emerge; faint as it was, it offered me the softest glimpse of happiness in a long while. We were going to have another baby. I was elated.

The following day, buoyed by the little life budding inside me, I went for a run. It was a glorious morning and the autumn hues were magnificent. The trees gracefully shed their leaves, performing a picturesque striptease. I smiled as I ran; believing I was running towards happiness.

But happiness was fleeting and within 24 hours I traded optimism for anguish. The spotting on my knickers was the first sign. While I had never experienced it before, I was not alarmed. I searched Internet boards to allay my concerns. Forums and chat rooms offered hope. Spotting was common. Even bleeding during the early weeks of pregnancy was common. There was nothing to worry about unless it got heavier.

But it did get heavier. And more painful. But it wasn’t going to result in a miscarriage. This wouldn’t happen. It couldn’t.

In a fraught attempt to defy gravity I lay down on the sofa for two hours in the middle of the day – not daring to move – believing if I remained horizontal and could not feel the blood seeping out of me, it was not real.

Only it was real. When I stood up and felt the resulting seepage, my whole body shook in fear. The cramping, described on the internet as similar to “period pain”, was nothing like menstrual cramping. It was sharp and mercilessly stabbed at my sides, and my heart. But still, I held onto hope.

By the end of the day my hope had all but disappeared. My husband watched on helpless as I sobbed on the toilet. He saw my naked anguish, which was raw and abrupt. Each time I passed pregnancy tissue, the remains of my hope were shed too.

I was losing my baby. I was losing a life I loved. Like most women, I had calculated the baby’s due date, mentally rearranged the kids’ bedrooms and jumped ahead to the baby’s birth. At six weeks gestation it was only the size of my pinky’s fingernail, but I loved each and every one of those precious cells. I cried most of the night, in a restless, anguished sleep with my hand over my hollow tummy, powerless over my own body.

I went to the doctors the following day to confirm the inevitable. She offered veiled hope and referred me to radiology for an ultrasound.

As I lay on my back, covered in the cold gel, I stared at the black and white monitor and my heart ached. Hot, silent tears fell down my cheeks as the sonographer prodded and probed searching for a gestational sack that had already passed. Unable to sight it she performed a painful internal ultrasound. “I’m sorry to say there is nothing there. It looks like a complete miscarriage,” she said, as she had likely said it many times before.

Like most mothers the guilt rose within me and the self-interrogation began. Was I responsible? Was it my age? Why hadn’t I taken folate? Was it linked to my stress levels? But, no, my GP assured me it was nothing I had done, or not done. It was just a standard miscarriage. Only there was nothing standard about it. I plunged into raw, primal grief. I was not only mourning the loss of a pregnancy; in my eyes, we had lost a baby, a toddler, a child, and a life. And the loss penetrated my every cell.

Later that day as I lay on the couch, unable to process my grief, something lovely happened. My four-year-old quietly lifted my blanket, lay down with me and placed her head on my chest. She didn’t say a word (outrageously rare for her) as I stroked her hair, softly and solemnly. Within minutes she was asleep; a child who hadn’t fallen asleep on me since she was a baby. I listened to her rhythmic breathing, in time with my own, and watched her chest rise and fall. And in that moment I have never been happier and sadder in my life. It struck me that love can hurt as much as it can elate. And that grief and joy are powerfully linked.

In the space of just one week I had lost two lives that meant the world to me. My heart – heavy from the loss of a relationship I had enjoyed for almost 40 years – collapsed with the loss of a relationship just six weeks old, but with the promise of a lifetime of joy. I wanted to run away from the grief. I wanted to go to bed and sleep until the sadness evaporated. But loss demands to be felt. You can’t run from grief and you can’t hide. And the only way out (of grief) is through.

What I discovered in the weeks that followed is that pregnancy loss is a deeply personal, solitary and lonely grief. My loss was classified as an early miscarriage. But whether you lose a baby at six weeks or 12 weeks, the outcome is the same and the grief is profound. And whether you miscarry during your first pregnancy, or your fourth pregnancy, the pain is raw and healing takes time. Because all miscarriages matter.

They all matter.

* First published on news.com.au

Follow NASD on Facebook for more snippets, insights and advice on this rollercoaster of a journey called motherhood.

Have you experienced pregnancy loss? How did you cope? Please share your experience below to acknowledge that all miscarriages matter and you are not alone in your grief.

Why you don’t need to “fix” your shy child & 4 ways to help them

If you have a child is reserved, and perhaps a little timid, there’s a good chance they’ve been described as shy. Shyness is a term often used to describe quieter children and, rather unfortunately, it seems to come with a negative inference. But here’s the thing: shyness in children is NOT a character flaw and it is not something that needs to be “fixed.” (more…)

How do you know when your family is complete?

Some say you just ‘know’ when you’re done having babies. “This shop is closed!” is a refrain echoed by many friends who seem utterly convinced that the childbearing chapter of their lives is over. Conversely, some women say they “know” in no uncertain terms that they’re NOT done having babies. And then there are the fence sitters, a little like me. They can’t say they’re done, but they can’t say they’re not done either. So, how do you know when you’re really, truly done? Is there a perfect number?

Having had three healthy babies, I feel overwhelmingly grateful and blessed, but I can’t say I am done DONE. Some days I definitely think I could be done. Why would I want to add another monster to the brood? Raising kids is definitely NOT all rainbows and daisy chains! But other days, even amid the chaos, mess, and meltdowns, I feel a deep longing to add another little person into our noisy lives. I come from a large family (of five daughters). My childhood was vibrant, lively and noisy. I loved the diversity and the energy in our household. My mum had five and that’s a huge jump from three, so four seems like a lovely compromise, and I have a thing for even numbers. So much “neater” than odd numbers!

I also have a weakness for babies. I just love them and wish the baby stage didn’t disappear so fast. They are intoxicating and I am a bit addicted to them. My husband reminds me that just as puppies grow up to be full-sized animals, babies get bigger too, and their needs grow bigger too (and expensive!) To add another member to the family would require a bigger car, a bigger washing machine, a bigger income and a bigger house! And really, how many years can you survive being tired?! I knew after my second child she would not be my last. I was completely certain that we were not done. After my third I felt complete but not certain. My husband was eager to get the snip but I just couldn’t sign that permission slip. Even though there are times I think we are done, and biologically my baby producing viability is declining rapidly, I prefer leaving the door slightly ajar. Is your door still ajar? If so, you may be still entertaining the idea thinking of adding to your family. Here are 5 signs you are not done having babies

  1. You can’t part with the baby stuff

Plenty of parents are swift to pack up their baby gear and head straight to the nearest charity shop or kids’ market when they outgrow the need for all the STUFF. Others, like me, hoard boxes and boxes of kids’ clothes, wraps, soft toys and nursery décor “just in case.” Recently my youngest got her first big girl bed. My husband asked if we should give it to someone else. But the clever man thought better of it and placed it in the shed, just in case. If you have a stash of “just in case” baby items that you can’t bear to part with you might not be done after all.

  1. You don’t remember the bad stuff

Do you remember the swollen veins, back pain, heartburn, nausea, and a catalogue of pregnancy symptoms that lasted almost a year? What about contractions, crowning and post labour stitches that left you to sore to sit? No? How about the bone crushing fatigue and cracked nipples? If this doesn’t sound familiar, along with the “not-so -fun” moments of infant-hood you might not be done having babies after all! Amnesia is probably a legal defence for having more babies. You just seem to blank out all the bad stuff.

  1. You keep the name in the vault

Plenty of people have a few baby names up their sleeves, “just in case.” If you really don’t to disclose your names from your list, then you’re probably not done having kids. I have a few more girls’ names that I just adore.

  1. You swoon over babies and preggy bellies

Hands down this is me. I get preggy envy and grab any chance to hold a newborn baby. I love baby stuff and regularly find myself in the baby section of a department store admiring the little onesies and bonds jumpsuits. If you find yourself fantasising over being pregnant again and having a baby grow inside you, then you’re probably not entirely done.

  1. You just “know”

Your gut tells you it, your heart tells you it, your body even tells you it. You are just not done. Perhaps it’s just one more roll of the dice and you’ve gotta do it… I don’t know if it is as simple as going with your gut. What happens when your gut is conflicted or in contrast to your partner’s wishes? I don’t know if it’s entirely right to be led by your heart without any consideration to your head. Finances and practicalities surely need to be considered too. My “baby” is now three and I think we are probably done, but I am not ruling it out entirely. Never say never…


I may, or may not, be done having babies but I still need a fab bag to carry around everyone’s stuff. And this bag is a beauty.

This stylish and functional BabyMel change bag up for grabs for one lucky reader. It’s light, practical and looks fabulous. Simply comment below and answer this question: Do you know if you’re done/not done having babies? How do you know? Terms and Conditions:

  1. Answer the competition question below in the comments section.
  2. Like the NASD Facebook page.
  3. One entry per person.
  4. Open to Australian residents only.

The giveaway will close at midnight on 24 June 2015. 
This is a game of skill. The winner will be awarded a BabyMel bag on the strength of their answer and will be announced on the NASD FB page on 25 June. Even if you’re not in it to win it, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

*Article first published on Essential Baby

How to ice a cake in fondant: The beginners guide.

If you loved playing with clay or playdough as a kid, you’ll love decorating with fondant as a grown up! You can roll it, cut it, dye it, and form it into just about any shape. And it’s perfect for creating fancy kids’ birthday cakes. Fondant is fun! It’s not without its pressure points but the key is to enjoy the process and get your kids involved. I’ll show you how to decorate with fondant for beginners. But be warned, fondant is addictive. Once you start decorating with this gorgeous icing, you won’t look back. (more…)