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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! 

To potty train, or not ?

Before going into anything - parents, guardians, carers, basically adults; ask yourself these two questions.

Am I ready ? 

Are they ready ?  

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to toilet training is ‘readiness’, because although the glory of getting rid of nappies is at the end of the tunnel, there are numerous hurdles that come with potty training.

I've made a list of some of the fun ones below: 

  • accidents everywhere 
  • patience 
  • confidence 
  • confusion
  • doubt
  • independence 
  • potty VS toilet seat 
  • poo phobia 
  • night confusion 
  • cabin fever 

Yes, the fun ones. If you're child is attending a daycare, it's likely they'll have more peer pressure around toilet-ing than most, this isn't to say that kids who don't attend childcare don't have pressure. Every child is different when it comes to the toilet and i've noticed a lot of parents comparing their child with others, siblings, and even themselves. There are so many roads to choose from when it comes to the toilet, so I want to write about options and encourage you to compare less, and choose the best road for you and your family. 

Photo by markcarper/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by markcarper/iStock / Getty Images

The first road is letting your child tell you that they're ready - Now, they're not going to walk up to you and say "no more nappies", what they will do is show you some signs and signals. 

  • Do they let you know what they're doing ? "i'm doing a wee wee, I did poo"
  • Doesn't their nappy stay dry for at least 90mins ? 
  • Is their an increased interest when others use the toilet ? - You know those fun toilet chats; "mum, what are you doing, mum, whats that, mum what you doing". 
  • Are they actually wanting to wear underwear? 
  • Have they tried to take off their nappy to use the toilet ? 
  • Are they talking about it or friends doing it ? 

Whether they're 2,3, 4 or older, these are signs that maybe its time to take the leap and say ciao to nappies. Sometimes I like to encourage parents to invest in some L plater pull ups, just to get the momentum going with their independence. 


If you're not wanting or are already in L plater training, then moving to the unrestricted licence potty training is next. First things first - boost that independence and confidence of theirs. I'm talking about hitting your local kmart and target and stocking up on those cheap undies - not just a few - STOCK UP! You're going to be packing at least 5 pairs at school and believe me when I say receiving poo undies at the end of a daycare day is not something I would wish on anyone. Don't be shy, buy those undie packs like a plague is going to hit. 

NEXT, the talk. 

Just like a sportsman has his pre-game prep talk, I'd advise you do the same - boost that confidence, reinforce that accidents are OK, put some humour and serious proud parent comments in there. "You're a big kid now, I'm so proud of you". 

While i'm on this road (your child leading the way), don't throw gifts at them yet. Remember they're developing enough to want to try it, so they don't need materialism (yet). Gifts are fantastic when you have a particular goal for them, as lets be honest it's the NO.1 motivator. Let them lead the way on their progress, if their morale is down, take them for a big kid baby cino bonding time, rather than - here's a toy. I like to reinforce rewards with bonding experiences instead of detached gifts. 

Think about it - linking gifts with successful toilet time may be quite the expensive path......

The other road... 

Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock / Getty Images

 This road is the "i want my child out of nappies', either because a baby is on the way and one less seems optimal or you're ready to save 20c per nappy OR you're just sick changing dirty nappies. Whatever it may be, this road I find to be harder as you're initiating the independence, rather than watching for more signs - you find the standard cabin fever/no pants wearing/nude child/wee on the floor method will be the breaker.

On this note - it may ? Sometimes having that 2-3day period of getting use to the toilet works, and you have a knicker wearing little one with just night nappies to worry about. If this is the path you're going down, be prepared for the 'regression period' of muchos accidents and laziness. Most kids go through this because their bladders are still in the piddle phase. 

Did she say piddle phase ? 

I did- the piddle phase is simply where your child's bladder is nappy trained, its still just releasing with the comfort of thinking the undies will absorb it.It'll pass  - also if your child is at daycare, even though they have teachers asking them, they're so stimulated that often the toilet is the last thing on their minds.

Some tactics; 

  • if asking your child every 30mins isn't working - let them take the lead, change the communication. "remember if you need a wee, you have to go to the toilet". 
  • increase the intervals to an hour or so and include yourself "mummy is going to the toilet, lets go together"
  • Remind them that they're a big kid now, and we have to practice the toilet 
  • Make links with the underwear- "we don't want to wee on Dora (yes, we do), lets take her to the toilet. 
  • Get a toilet mascot (elmo/their favourite companion). 

Remember the toilet is about leading their independence, encouraging them to develop and strengthen their self-help skills. 



- please comment all questions! I'd love to hear from you and help. 


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 




For those of you who don't know me - I'm Anca! Welcome to my website, more so, my Blog! 

I've decided to redirect my blog posts to my website after hearing so much wonderful feedback from my facebook page. I thought it would be easier to have a simple blog page where everyone can benefit from my tips and tricks. 

I'll be talking about everything kid related; from newborns to nipples, toddlers and tantrums, juggling household chaos, milk - solids and plenty more. 

Parenting and kids are my absolute passion. I've dedicated my career to helping families and educating both parents and children. I hope to inspire mums and dads to reach out for help when needed, or simply take a deep breath and smile when realising they're not alone. 

Anca will always be here to save the day! 

Anca xxx a

We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves.