Friday, November 9, 2012

Friendly Reminder


Just a quick & friendly reminder that if you are looking for me, I can now be found over at the huntered housewife.

And on Facebook here.

I can be contacted via email at:

The rambling mum email is no longer monitored on a regular basis.

Many of you have followed me over there already - Thank you.

PR Companies - I have emailed you if I work with you regularly. If you need to contact me, please use the new email address above.

Thank you!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

We have Chocolate Winners!

The 3 winners of my Well, Naturally No Added Sugar Chocolate Giveaway have been determined.

The giveaway was being run at the same time I was discontinuing rambling mum and establishing the huntered housewife. As a result, it was run on both blogs. Entry comments from both posts have been considered.

So, click on over here to see who the lucky winners are!


Karen xx

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Moving home

Yes, we did only recently move home.

This time, I'm talking about my blog. It is moving.

There is a whole new name, a new home and a new look.

Thank you for supporting rambling mum over the past couple of years.

You will now find me at the huntered housewife and on Facebook here.

See you there real soon!

Karen xx

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Who's trying to reduce their sugar intake? (Giveaway)

I've noticed a lot of posts on Facebook and Blogs recently about going sugar free. I really need to have a close look at some of those recipes. We could do with reducing the sugar consumption in our household, I'm sure. Particularly because I am in the high risk category for Type 2 diabetes. And carrying too much weight on my frame (aren't we all). But sometimes it just seems like too much hard work.

So when I was offered the chance to try some chocolate with 80% less sugar than regular chocolate, I had to say yes. Let's face it, chocolate has a place in every girl's life. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, flavoured name it, we love it!

Well Naturally is a brand I have tasted before. Whenever I've been on my low carb phases, I've snacked on their sugar free dark chocolate, discovered when I was packing shelves for a living late at night. (Do you have any idea how snacky a job like that makes you?!). And I found the chocolate yummy!

Most foods contain sugar, natural sugar. A lot of foods have more sugar added to them in the manufacturing process. That means more calories for a start, with no extra nutrition.Well Naturally's No Added Sugar milk chocolate retains the natural sugars from the lactose, but all excess sugars are eliminated. Which means that the finished chocolate bar has 80% less sugar than regular milk chocolate. And fewer calories! I'm wanting to reduce both my sugar and calorie intake to improve my health, so that ticks a box or two for me. How about you?

Well Naturally's No Added Sugar Chocolate is available in Creamy Milk or Fruit & Nut flavours. I've tried them both. More than once! And there are no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives in either variety. Great if your are looking after your health or have reactions to some of those nasties. (Like me with the sulphites in cheap wine lol).

So how do they taste, compared to regular chocolate bars? They do taste different, If you are expecting Well Naturally to taste like your favourite other brand, then you'll be wrong. These do taste yummy, but they are not what we are used to. If you are trying to be healthy & still need your chocolate fix, then Well Naturally provides a happy medium. Have your naughty food (PMT & mood fixer) without so much naughtiness.

You can buy them at Woolworths for $2.69 for a 45g bar. They're in the health food aisle. I know because I used to pack them there.

But if you don't want to part with your hard earned cash, you can win some right here. 3 lucky readers will each win a pack containing one bar of each flavour (Creamy Milk and Fruit & Nut). Try before you buy!

To enter, leave a comment on my blog telling me the importance of chocolate in your life. Or (if you are one of those really good people), the role you wish chocolate could take in your life!
Make sure you leave me an email address, so I can contact you if you win.

Competition is open to Australian residents only and closes at 5pm on Fri 2nd Nov, Sydney time.

The 3 best answers as judged by me will be the winners.

Ready, set, go!


Disclaimer: I received Well Naturally No Added Sugar Chocolate bars for review purposes. Opinions are mine and are honest. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Recent bits of my life.

Mental blank without my phone (with photos in it) beside me! Be right back.

Right, so what's been happening in my world then? I swear, if I don't write it down, I've got Buckley's of remembering.

* I snuck back to Shellharbour to surprise Bek for her baby shower. This pic was taken at a quickly organised  picnic the next day, which gave the kids & I the chance to catch up with friends. Thank you to Deb for organising the baby shower & my Mother in Law for allowing her home to be invaded by me & 2 of her Grandkids.
that's me on the left & Bek on the right

* Trixie the dog jumped the fence into the neighbours yard. Again. She can't jump back home. Thank you nice lady for not getting cranky with us. I don't think I would like someone else's dog landing in my backyard. Ever.

* Looked up & noticed the filthy hanging pot holder in the kitchen. How often do you look up?

* Took on a gym class. And survived! It will be my Tuesday night regular whilst Zac is at cadets.

* Discovered a fantastic App called My Fitness Pal, thanks to Rachael from Fat to Fit and Fabulous by Forty.

* Liam and Megan started tennis lessons last week:
orange & blue shirt

* Zac is about to go on Year 11 Retreat for 3 nights with school. Feel like I haven't seen much of our big son lately - he was away with cadets the first week of the school holidays and I was away with the younger two for 4 days of the second week. And nobody told him to stop growing - he'll be 17 on the 26th. Please pass the tissues.

* Ray's been putting the hours in at work & taking the kids for a bike ride on the weekends. And even getting time to escape with a mate to go fishing. In his words "No fish have been harmed in any of our expeditions".

That's a quick wrap up of what's happening here.

What's happening there?

Monday, October 1, 2012

October is here.

Yep, a new month. Another calendar page turns.

This month our eldest son turns 17. Wow, time is flying by. He's starting Year 12 in just a few weeks. His high school finish line is getting closer.

The weather is warming up. We've had a few 30 degree days already & there are a couple more forecast this week. 30 degrees inland is nothing like a coastal 30 degrees. Not as humid. Much more comfortable. So far.  Ask me again when summer arrives.

This week we discovered that the plant winding its way up the pergola post is a grapevine. Yes, we live in the Hunter (wine country as well as horse country) & we have a grapevine. Cool, hey?

Speaking of plants, today was a nice day to get stuck into some gardening. Not too much, as this is a temporary house for us. But something to prettify it.

pots of colour -to-be by the front door

radish, parsley & chives in vegie patch, flowers in left pot,
mystery plant in pot on right was already here

And next weekend Daylight Savings Starts - YAY!!!! Love, love LOVE daylight savings. Brings a whole new attitude & pace of life with it.

There will be more that October brings, but this is just a snippet.

Oh, and I am also informally doing Ocsober. It's like Dry July in that I am giving up alcohol for the month. Informal because I am not seeking sponsorship, I am simply doing it for me.

What's October got in store for you?


Saturday, September 15, 2012

I trained him well

Friday evening.

The most strenuous thing I had to do yesterday was remember the hairdresser appointments for Megan & I. And remember to go to afternoon assembly at the primary school.

Hubby spent the day at the mine, working extra hours as he does.

Arrives home, I duck to the shops to get some urgent groceries.

I come back to this:

Slaving away in the kitchen, finishing prepping the dinner that I started.

So what did I do?

The only thing a good wife does:

he he he......

Cheers, ladies, good health to you!

Karen xx

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Family Visitors

I have good reason for being super quiet on the blog front this week.

My Dad came to our new town & stayed with us on Tues & Wed nights.

My Mum & Stepdad are currently visiting, staying in a motel just around the corner for 2 nights.

So I have been playing the role of personal tour guide, which they tell me they have appreciated. I'm pretty sure they tell the truth. Except when I was a kid & the subject was Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. Or that the wind would change & my face would stay in that funny face I pulled. Forever.

Took a quick couple of snaps last night at the pub where we had dinner:

horse related decor in the stockhorse capital of the country

loving the tablecloths!

that's us, except me of course. Someone had to take the photo!
Ray's artwork during the LONG wait for dinner.
Apart from eating out, I have been driving our visitors around to the same places I have already shown you. The places that are part of our new routine.

And I get to do it all again in 2 weeks, when a friend of mine comes with her hubby & kids.

Would anyone else like a personal tour? I'm loving having visitors.

Karen xx

Monday, September 3, 2012

Physiotherapy & chocolate - what the?

Went to physio today. This old bod needs to work, with lots of aches & tightness, kind of a hangover from my nightfill job.

Worked on one shoulder & arm, stretching out the muscles a bit.

Gave me an exercise band & a list of exercises to do every day until my next session.

The band smells like chocolate.

It really does! Liam (9 & home sick from school today) commented on it first. So I am not making it up. I got Megan to smell it & she agrees. Ray kind of agrees, thought it smelt odd but couldn't place it. Yep, cheap chocolate. Zac just thinks it smells like it's meant to.

Does it smell like chocolate to make it more inviting for me to use? So I get at least some enjoyment from my exercising?

Or is it giving me permission to eat chocolate after I've done my daily workout?

You decide!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Another Gorgeous Sunny Weekend

I have to love this time of year. The sun is shining more often than not. Sure the nights are still cold cool here (the last few have been only 1 or 2 degrees), but with a wood fire, we are fortunate to be snug & warm in our home.

The trees are blooming. It's just too, too nice to be inside.

Yesterday I took the younger two kids to a Farmer's Market. Now, tell me what images those words conjure up in your head.

Farmer's Market.

I imagined trestle tables with boxes of potatoes, pumpkins, onions, cauliflowers, cabbages, lettuce, oranges, strawberries, lemons, etc to be felt, smelt, bought & brought home to enjoy the fresh, full flavours.

It was advertised as having local beef & lamb available to buy.

Exactly what we have been looking for.

It wasn't what I expected. Let's just say I didn't come home with any fruit. Or veg. Or meat. But we did have really yummy sausage sandwiches. And I tasted a really yummy locally made red wine. And I brought home some direct from the local factory fudge. I guess I am used to bigger markets. This one only had a dozen stalls. However I would like to stop at the seed stall once we are back in a home of our own.

I really really really wanted to see the bag lady. And she did not disappoint! I have never been a "bag lady", but I swear she could convert me! For those of you who missed it on Facebook, here's a pic:

Driving home:

grape vines

olive trees

Today saw a bbq at the primary school to celebrate the appointment of our new Parish Priest, Father Peter. Every Vietnamese Priest I have ever met has been named Peter. Very popular name!

that's my two on the left with sunnies on their head, plus Megan in  between

father & son basketball

Liam spectating

(We had some other photos too, but they had other people's kids in them & I didn't want to put them online without their parents' permission.)

Apart from that, it's been washing, washing and more washing.

What have you been up to this weekend?

Tell me what your favourite stall is at your local markets.

Karen xx

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Dream Home

The List of Wants is forever changing.

And they are wants, not needs.

I am not so self-absorbed that I don't know the difference.

Here's what on it at the moment:

* Huge linen closet. To the point that I can label the shelves so that anyone else who opens the cupboard (yeah, right) will know that this pile is the kids' bed linen, queen sheets, hand towels, bathmats, etc. We had a small linen cupboard at our own house, the rental we are in now has a good sized one, but I want bigger.

* The kid's wardrobes need to be double door ones. It just means things can be put away.

* The kitchen window must overlook the backyard, not the side of the house. It is my favourite room of the house & I would like to be looking at our own space rather than my neighbour's window or wall. Or kids.

 * A covered deck or veranda at the back of the house. A servery from the kitchen would be handy too. Have to have the option of sitting outside to enjoy the view. A place the kids can paint & be messy & we can just hose it down. And hose the kids down too.

* Speaking of views, a really good one would be nice. Like open spaces, or mountains, or horses. There are some beautiful views here, giving a real appreciation of nature's work.

* A bathroom I could swing a cat in. Not that I would, but if you're an Aussie you will know what I mean. And it needs two towel rails. Seriously folks, if you build a 5 bedroom house (with bathroom + ensuite), you have more than 2 kids. Only 2 towels fit on a standard towel rail. Wake up to yourselves.

* The ensuite needs to be big enough for both of us to stand in there at the same time.

* Skylights. I love natural light. I hate having to turn lights on during the day. The house we are renting has a dark bathroom & it shits annoys me. One of my favourite things in the world is to open the curtains & windows on a warm spring or summer day.

* High ceilings. I have been spoilt in our rental. The high ceilings really give a sense of spaciousness.

One thing I can't decide is if I want an old style house or sleek, modern one. However it is not just up to me. We are a whole family here. And I'm sure others (hubby) would like a say in it!

One thing I do know - my list will change again tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next. But that's life. And I haven't even started on the kitchen, loungeroom or bedrooms yet.

What's on the list for your dream home?

Karen xx

images from

Monday, August 27, 2012

How Much Are We Really Saving?

I did some grocery shopping the other day. Nothing out of the ordinary for me, most days I have some groceries to buy.

My supermarket loyalty card offered me 10% off my shopping total, so I went there instead of the opposition who I prefer since we moved because they are closer & not too badly priced.

Here's a snippet from my docket:

My first thought was "Fabulous! I've ripped them off saved nearly 25 bucks on that shop".

But something was lurking in my mind & it wouldn't go away.

How much are the prices jacked up in the first place, that they can offer discounts on their instore orange tickets, or email 10% discounts to me & goodness knows how many other people?

I have a sneaking suspicion they are ripping me off!

(I can write posts like this now without putting my job in jeopardy, because I no longer work for them).

Do you think loyalty cards save you money? What's your opinion on supermarket pricing?

Karen xx

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More exploring

Oma came for a visit last weekend. That would be my mother in law. I am one of the lucky ones who has a great mother in law. So Oma you are welcome to come for sleepovers again.

We did some more touristy stuff, which was in our plans anyway.

Zac had a Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Service to participate in as an army cadet. His picture ended up in the local paper, but here's some Oma took:

taken at Quirindi

that's him on the left, with the gun

We went here:

And saw this:

And this:

And of course, will younger kids in tow, park stops were aplenty over the weekend. This one particular is a great park in Musswellbrook, which is about half an hour away. In a huge enclosure there are 3 or 4 lots of climbing equipment, the ropes, swings, a bike & scooter track for the kids to ride plus picnic tables & an electric bbq. And. clean. toilets. Fabulous for birthday parties or a family day out.

never too old. that's not a road in the background, it's the bike & scooter track

Oma,looking like she's freezing

tiring stuff!

What did you get up to recently?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Annoying Little Episodes

My quest for a new quilt cover set from Aldi cost me a little more than expected, thanks to a chipped windscreen on the way to their store. Yep, it only took 6 weeks of country living to have a stone flick up and almost greet my nose in person. Thank goodness windscreens are made from tough stuff. If it had shattered, I would have panicked because my mobile service is non existent once I am out of my home town. I spend many hours driving these country roads with no phone reception.(I hope the kangaroos, foxes, wombats, porcupines and all the other roadkill I've seen realise that, and choose not to collide with my car).

Fortunately, before I had time to say "Oh, Oh, Oh", I rounded the corner & there was a windscreen repair place right there. 50 metres from where it happened. And yes, it was an O'Brien's. Half an hour, a crappy coffee (Hungry Jacks), a choc-muffin-&-juiced up little girl, and $150 later, I was on the road again. Home. Not tempting fate thanks very much.

So I tried again a couple of days later & of course the quilt cover set I wanted was gone. They had plenty of purple cushions left to match it, but not the quilt cover. Oh well!

My week also saw me take on my mobile phone service provider. They have very limited service in this area and like I said, it works in my home town, but as soon as I leave here, I get nothing. Nada. Zilch. And I only renewed my 24 month plan in April. Before we knew we were moving. They've told me they don't have to release me from my contract because it was my choice to move & their contract doesn't obligate them to provide service in my new area. They told my friend (who lives 2 towns away & has no reception) a couple of months ago that the big upgrade is coming in August & she'll have no problems. They told me that they can see until the end of the year & this area is not in any upgrades before then. They can't tell me about next year. So they've offered a reduction in my monthly payment. And they told me they knew it was of no help to me whatsoever. 

So, if I want a mobile phone service that actually works, I need to start one up with Telstra or Optus as well as keep paying my Vodafone one. I find it amusing that the Big W store up here sells Vodafone deals for phone & internet when they are in a town that has no reception. Misleading or what.

So I've taken it to the Ombudsman & they think I have grounds for complaint, even though the contract in April was signed in good faith. Now I wait for Vodafone's response. 

Oh yeah, and the dude on the phone laughed when I told him I need a phone that works because I could hit a kangaroo when I'm driving. Yeah mate, it may not happen in whatever country you are in, but it happens here. And it's a long way to walk for help.

What annoyed you lately?

Karen xx

Monday, August 13, 2012

Even I can bake this.....I think!

This is what landed on my doorstep a while back.

Except the butter & eggs (I bought those).

I didn't have time to bake before we moved, we were packing up a house after all, and living in a motel the last couple of days.

So I got busy in the kitchen of our temporary accommodation when we first arrived. Got to love a fancy Donna Hay Flourless Chocolate Truffle Cake - a bit of comfort food when you have just arrived in a new town. It added to that "fantasy week" we spend in the beautiful farmhouse. (to my knowledge, another family is in it now - major pout!)

Anyway, to get to the point.

Donna Hay's home-bake mixes are so good, even I can not follow the directions correctly bake them with ease.

Yeah, I may have put the alfoil "hood" on it after I took it out of the oven, instead of baking it with the hood on. Donna Hay caters for the human-ness in all of us, because it still tasted really, really yummy.

We didn't have any cream, so Neapolitan ice cream it was!

You can buy the Donna Hay range in Woolworths & Independent supermarkets for $7.99 RRP.

* Donna Hay Molten Chocolate Chunk Brownie
* Donna Hay Vanilla Cupcakes
* Donna Hay Chocolate Cupcakes
* Donna Hay Almond Macaron with Chocolate Filling

All are free from artificial colours and flavours, and contain no preservatives. Simply add the fresh ingredients and follow the directions you'll be whipping up a treat just like I did!

Cake season is hitting our household (kids birthdays next 3 months) - I wonder if they will ask for a Donna Hay creation?

Karen xx

Sugar Free Winners

Congratulations to the following readers who have each won a packet of  WOW Wonderland of Wellbeing's Lemon and Lime flavoured Sugar Free Drops.

* MichVee

* Bek Williams

* Marybelle

* Merryl


All winners have been contacted & are thrilled to be winners! You will all be receiving your prize shortly.

Congratulations ladies, and thanks again for being regular readers.



Friday, August 10, 2012

The Scammers just keep trying.....

Just received an email from the ato. On a Saturday. Yeah, right.

This is how it reads:

Australian Government
Commissioner of Taxation

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund.

Click Here to See your refund status
Barbara DuFrene
Chairman, Australian Securities & Investments Commission

Australian Taxation Office

The reply email address is

Do people seriously believe this crap?

Seen any good scams lately?

Karen xx

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lunchbox friendliness (a review)

Whose school is a nut free environment?

Our preschools and primary schools have been as long as my kids have been going to school.

Which is about 14 years now.

I know how hard it is to find a school friendly snack.

I know how hard it is to keep lunchboxes interesting.

I also know a good thing when I see it. And try it.

Now, I have reviewed Table of Plenty's foods before.

Here and here.

I am a fan.

I like that there is a family's story behind the company. It came about out of necessity for this family.

Table of Plenty strive to avoid problematic ingredients like wheat, soy, dairy, nuts & sulphites.

Makes them lunchbox friendly.

Muesli bars no longer have to be a "no no" at school.

We got to try both flavours - Berry Blast and Cocoa Crush.

Cocoa crush, being chocolate flavoured, is definitely my favourite. I am not a huge berry fan (unless you are talking in the form of fresh fruit), but these actually tasted quite good. They surprised me.

Low in fat, low in sugar and preservative free, yet high in flavour.

And made with totally natural wholegrains and less than 100 calories each bar, these are a winner in my book!

You can buy Table of Plenty's NoNo's only at Woolworths for $4.25 for a box of 6.

What do you look for in a lunchbox snack?


Disclaimer: I was sent Table of Plenty's NoNo's bars for the purpose of product review. I have not been paid for this post. Opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Winners are Grinners (DVD winners announced)

Thanks to all who entered my Universal Sony Pictures DVD Giveaway!

I gave the kids a list of the movies mentioned in the comments, and based on their favourites, these two ladies are my lucky winners:

MichVee - Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

Erin - Toy Story 1

Congratulations to both of you! You've won DVDs of these 3 movies:

Keep your eyes open for an email from me, to get your postage details.


Karen xx

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sunny Sunday

It's a beautiful sunny day in the Upper Hunter today so I took Liam & Megan to the park.

Zac got to do the more adult activity of going to the dump with Ray. To dispose of the RIP washing machine and other bits & pieces because we've only been here a bit over a month I don't think Zac's really into parks any more.

We found the standard kind of playground:

This is where I was when I took that photo:


With all sorts of exercise equipment to work those abs, pecs, shoulders, lower back, calves, butt, etc.

And little signs in front of each station on the circuit telling you what to do & what muscles it works.

I think we've found our new favourite park! Did you notice all the kids were in the gympark, not the regular park?! I'm planning on heading to this one a few times a week for a workout.

Once we'd tried everything out & I'd kicked my kids off each time I wanted to use something, we headed further into the sports complex to another park.

And of course, no park visit is complete without this:

Rolling down the hill
What's filling your day today?