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Simple, gentle and effective guidance for growing families

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One Pot Wonder!

Winter has arrived and I can't think of anything better than having a feast on the table for everyone to enjoy. Having heard so many horror stories of multiple dinner meals being cooked to suit everyone's needs, I had to intervene. Here's to the beginning of Anca's family dinners for all! You don't need to be slaving away in the kitchen and with a few tweaks here and there you can zazzz it up or tone it down. 


Beef Ragu! 

Ragu - (for those wondering), is simply a meat-based sauce. That's all! The key to this sauce is stewing your meat so it becomes this delicious, soft, rich (but not too rich, you're in control) sauce. It's so tasty! ! 


Understandably, making fresh pasta is a bit of a stretch, but don't you worry, this dish is just as good with any pasta you have in the pantry (but if you'd like the recipe for my fresh pasta, drop a comment)!

Recipe Time! 

Now, the recipe below is for when you need to host a dinner, or if you feel like something a bit richer. That being said, i've put in brackets what you can use as an alternative. 

600g beef cheeks, trimmed, halved (or chuck steak)

2 tbs olive oil 

1 large red onion, coarsely chopped 

1-2 large carrots

1 bag of fresh spinach (I like about 300-500g)

6 cloves garlic, crushed 

½-1 long red chilli, thinly sliced (for a more adult based dinner)

½ bunch rosemary 

½ bunch thyme 

250ml dry white wine 

2 x 400g cans whole tomatoes, pureed (this isn't diced, chopped, look for puree )

1/2-1 can x hot water (I simply use the old tomato can to get that left over tomato juice)

1/2 bunch basil leaves, chopped 

2 Bay leaves

Lets get cooking!

  1. Lightly oil your meat of choice - season well, don't be shy. 
  2. In a large pot, add some olive oil and brown your meat all over and chuck it in your slow cooker (which is set to low) when done. 
  3. Add onion, garlic and chilli to same pan. Cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Stir in rosemary, thyme and wine. Simmer until wine is reduced by half, then add carrots.
  4. Add your pureed tomatoes! Bring to the boil and stir stir stir. 
  5. At the sauce to the slow cooker. If the meat is covered well by the sauce then just add half a can of water. Stir the mixture to combine all those lovely flavours and get your toddler to add Anca's favourite ingredient - Bay Leaves! 
  6. Pop that lid on, blow a kiss, put those feet up and signal hubby to wash up. Your dinner is set for tomorrow night. 
  7. Before serving, shred the meat in the sauce, throw it in a pot to reduce until you're satisfied and whack the pasta on. 
  8. Stir in the basil & the spinach (don't worry, it will soften).  
  9. Serve with some parmesan cheese. 

Note, this could easily be thrown together in the AM ready for the evening. I love to make this dish and eat it the night after! 

Travelling guidance

Dreaming of a getaway? Does the thought of a simple domestic trip scare you ? This is for you then, because Anca has got you covered! Having kids can be expensive, and travelling can seem like you need a lottery ticket before googling webtjet prices. Aside from the cost, you start to think of all the little details; 

  • They're going to scream on the plane?  
  • How will we keep them entertained ?
  • What about the pram ?
  • Getting to the airport? Getting home! 
  • Food while we're there? 
  • What about delays ? 

Going on a trip doesn't have to be an overwhelming experience, it simply comes down to being organised and then a little bit more. Preparation is absolutely KEY! So, lets get you all prepared! 


Whether you're going international or domestic - if you  have an infant over 12months old i'd invest in a few of these free apps. Your must apps are one click away!!! 

Wash away the guilt of having an ipad on a plane - you are trapped on a plane with a ticking energy time bomb so you gotta do what you gotta do!  If you have some kids that are older, i'd recommend checking out these apps which include a range of fantastic educational games (i personally love exploring the Nat-geo one. 

Feeding the little one/s..... 

Sugar is the devil here. I'm not opposed to the standard treat here and there, but having a child trapped on a plane, and in a small confined space, it's safe to say the logical thing is to keep the sugar devil away. I've made a little slide show of some of my favourite snacks - i've done 4 long journey's with kids under 5 years of age, these worked a treat, especially having them in the 'fun bag/treat bag'. When you feel he has been behaving or simply needs a distraction - Want to have a dip in the fun bag????". It works a treat - PUN INTENDED. 


Dried nuts!

Mixed nuts. 

Fantastic healthy and filling snack for everyone

Seaweed snack!

Dried Seaweed ! 

A fantastic, crunchy, messy and tasty treat

 (click to scroll)

The key to all of these snacks are -very low sugar or natural sugars. Having an over supply rather than an under supply. For the long distance trips i've taken I have found that kids who are full tend to have less mood swings. Make sure the fun bag is closed and not available 24/7, it's always a good idea to keep it as a treat or opportunity. 

Milk zone 

Here are some points about getting those bottles together if you are not breastfeeding. The flight attendants are always helpful when it comes to topping up water, etc. Don't be shy to ask for help! 

  • Have your formula pre-measured, in the bottle ready to go. 
  • take off and landing can be a horrifying experience for some little ones, so be sure to make some extra bottles incase they need soothing feed
  • There is filtered water on the plane - that is available to you. Once you pass security check, go to the store and buy a big bottle of water so you can top up at your seat (especially if you're doing a domestic trip). 
  • Ask the flight attendants if they wouldn't mind topping up the bottle with hot water - they have boiling water all ready to go. 
  • Another trick is to have a formula divider container, and as you get on the plane, ask the air hostess if she wouldn't mind topping them up, so when you're ready for a feed you can just add the formula. This will save you so much time
  • For post formula kiddies, I would recommend taking some longlife on the plane. You can buy the small sizes to get through security and all you have to do is pour into the bottle. Simple and effective. 


Getting to the airport 

This is usually the big stress when it comes to trips. If you are doing a domestic trip then I highly recommend checking your Health fund, and car insurance - WHY ??? If you're with NRMA or BUPA, then you could be entitled to up to 20% off at Park and Fly. 

  • - A great service where they take you on a shuttle (with car seats if needed), drop you to your terminal, pick you up and have your car ready. So effective especially if you're going on a quick trip. If you have any discounts through your car insurance it almost costs the same as organising a cab with car seats etc. Less hassle, more convenience - IDEAL when travelling with kids. 
  • - 20% off park and fly!!! Make sure you check and compare all your health insurance, private insurance and car insurance. For all the premiums you pay, it sure is handy to have some benefits. I've attached the NSW seat belt/car seat regulations for travelling in taxi's - I get asked this question so frequently that I hope this helps and be sure to pass it on to those who are travelling !!! 
    •  I've attached the NSW seat belt/car seat regulations for travelling in taxi's - I get asked this question so frequently that I hope this helps and be sure to pass it on to those who are travelling !!!
  • - Ride with UBER! cheaper, better service and 100% more reliable than taxi's. NB: you are also able to catch an UBER at the airport arrivals now in the public pick up area! 


While you're in the airport - don't give your pram away - hold onto it (i absolutely push for Yoyo's or the simple Maclaren that does a 2 second origami fold-away. When checking in, inform them you need the pram up until boarding - it makes carrying your hand luggage a lot easier 

- On that note, don't carry lots of loose toy items in the bottom of the pram for the simple reason of you'll enter security check and have to stand there emptying it all out!!!! Keep to the fun bag/treat bag. All the goodies you need in one simple location, quick and effective. 

Be safe and have fun! I hope this information is helpful to you all! 

Happy travels!!!


Anca xxxx 

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.....

Sometimes parenting can simply come down to motivation and management - when you need to get to a playdate and don't want to be delayed an hour, you gotta simple HOOK those kidlets in. 

BUT HOW?!?!?!?

No. 1: You need to get yourself prepared before managing others. I see so many parents saving themselves for last and before you know it, your adorable, dressed, and ready to go bubba has rubbed sudocream all over themselves or destroyed something. Once you have yourself prepared, you are 100% ready to take on all challenges thrown at you (literally). 

-----> On this note, get yourself a mapped out schedule. If you need to be out the door and on a ferry to work by 8am, I would be thinking over a thorough plan of action. 

No. 2: Don't introduce distractions if you can avoid them - the big one to avoid here is TV! Unless your kids have grown up and can reason with you through conversation, then don't go near those electronic devices AND lets be real, do you really want to listen to ANOTHER paw patrol episode (let alone meltdown)????????  

No. 3: Chill on the compromises! Don't spend 20-30mins asking you child do something and negotiating a compromise to go with it, because you're basically just teaching them that if they listen to instructions they get something - which is absolutely crazzzzzzzzzzy! 

------------->> Remember: you'll be giving instructions for a long, looonnnnngg, looooooooooong time, so do you really want to be negotiating each time? NO! It's simple: 

  1.  Give the instruction
  2. Give the instruction in a firmer tone if nothing happens 
  3. Provide a warning (if nothing changes)
  4. Follow through - time out. 
  5. Hugs & sorries / instruct again
  6. By this point, if they still aren't listening - keep to schedule, simply say nothing, take them to complete instuction (e.g. get them dressed/shoes on/etc..... ) 
  7. Debrief when calm later on 

Now, this is all easier than said. You need to remember that every family and parent has a different boundary with their child. If you've been negotiating and suddenly follow these steps, your little one may be a little shocked. Best thing to do is talk to them the day before, tell them you need help, tell them mummy wants your listening ears on. Set up the new boundary. 

Every new day is an opportunity to make a change :D 


Anca xx