All Posts By:

Sophia Brown

Craft/ Parenting

Town Planning for Kids

The boys love learning new things and are absorbing information like sponges.

I’m a town planner by profession, so I thought they were finally old enough to learn the basics of Town Planning – the main types of residential dwellings:

  • Single storey house
  • Two storey house
  • Duplex (dual occupancy) – 2 dwellings on 1 lot
  • Townhouse (multi dwelling housing) – 3 or more dwellings on 1 lot with each dwelling having access from the ground floor
  • Apartment building (residential flat building) – 3 or more dwellings (I say to the boys – lots and lots of units in 1 big building)

I used basic shapes – rectangles (buildings, doors), squares (windows), triangles (roof) to make up the buildings with A4 and A5 coloured paper from Kmart.

I cut out the shapes and the boys helped me to stick them onto the wall with sticky tape. For older kids could cut out the shapes themselves.

It’s a great way to count, use basic shapes, and learn the different types of houses as we live in an area with lots of different types of housing which the boys can see as real life examples.

Baking/ Chocolate/ Kids in the Kitchen/ Non Thermomix/ Snacks/ Thermomix

Milo Dog Cookies

These dog cookies are for human consumption (not canine consumption 😉 ) to celebrate this year’s Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog!

Despite being Chinese/Malaysian, I don’t make rice or do much Chinese cooking (I leave that to my mum!) but I thought I would make some cookies in celebration of the Year of the Dog with the help of my 3 year old half Asian twin boys to teach them a little bit about their Chinese heritage.

These are perfect for the Year of the Dog celebrations, but would also be really cute in lunchboxes or for a kids party! This is a variation of my Milo Cookies.

Add chocolate chips to bowl

– blitz 5 seconds/Speed 7.

Add butter, sugar and egg to bowl

– mix 1 minute/Speed 5.

Add plain flour, self raising flour, Milo and milk

– mix 20 seconds/Speed 6. Scrape down.

Mix a further 20 seconds/Speed 6.

Knead – 2 minutes/kneading function/MC off.

Roll into teaspoon sized balls

and decorate with Milo cereal, sprinkles and chocolate chips (as pictured).

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes.

Milo Dog Cookies

Print Recipe
Serves: approx. 56 cookies

Ingredients

  • 100 grams dark chocolate chips
  • 250 grams butter (softened)
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 310 grams plain flour
  • 90 grams self raising flour
  • 110 grams Milo
  • 60 grams milk
  • To decorate:
  • *Milo cereal
  • *Sprinkles
  • *Dark chocolate chips

Instructions

1

METHOD (Thermomix):

2

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

3

Add chocolate chips to bowl - blitz 5 seconds/Speed 7.

4

Add butter, sugar and egg to bowl - mix 1 minute/Speed 5.

5

Add plain flour, self raising flour, Milo and milk - mix 20 seconds/Speed 6. Scrape down.

6

Mix a further 20 seconds/Speed 6.

7

Knead - 2 minutes/kneading function/MC off.

8

Roll into teaspoon sized balls and decorate with Milo cereal, sprinkles and chocolate chips (as pictured).

9

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.

10

METHOD (Electric Mixer):

11

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

12

Crush chocolate chips in a blender, food processor, or chop finely/grate (from block form if easier).

13

Add crushed chocolate, butter, sugar and egg into a large bowl - beat until mixture is combined/creamed.

14

Add plain flour, self raising flour, Milo and milk - mix until ingredients are combined.

15

Knead (either with a stand mixer attachment or by hand) for approx. 2 minutes.

16

Roll into teaspoon sized balls and decorate with Milo cereal, sprinkles and chocolate chips (as pictured).

17

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.

Notes

*Once cooled, store in an air tight container. **You can use flaked almonds instead of Milo Cereal for the ears. ***You can use the round sprinkles for the eyes instead of the long sprinkles. ****You can use smarties or milk/white chocolate chips for the nose to make diff coloured dogs.

Babies/ Parenting/ Twins

I grow twins. What’s your superpower?

This day exactly one year ago, I found out I was pregnant. When that ‘pee on a stick’ came out positive, I was excited to go through a singleton pregnancy. I thought it would be amazing (and easier) to experience a singleton pregnancy after my twin pregnancy with the boys.
A day after I found out, morning sickness hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was morning sick when pregnant with the boys but not even remotely close to how sick I felt this time round. The way I explain it to my husband and friends who haven’t had babies or experienced bad morning sickness before…is that it feels like the WORST hangover in your life, where your head is spinning, your heart’s beating out of your chest, & you want to spew 24/7 even with an empty stomach. After 2 weeks of hardly eating or drinking, I ended up in hospital and was diagnosed with HG (Hyperemesis Gravidarum). I hadn’t had an ultrasound yet, and I remember the doctors and nurses joking that I was pregnant with twins again…and we all laughed and laughed and laughed!! Well, a few days later I went and had my dating scan (the first scan of a pregnancy). @mrtwinsandablog didn’t come with me because we thought it would just be a standard scan showing us one baby. As the radiologist was about to do the ultrasound, I told him that I have twin boys, and that we only found out they were twins at 10 weeks (at our 6 week scan the report said there was 1 baby and a shadow showing indications of a blood clot or failed twin pregnancy). He was really quiet for a while and then he said I was having twins! And I laughed and laughed and laughed. I seriously thought he was joking, until he showed me the actual scan and I was like WTF! I didn’t even have the words in me to tell my husband on the phone that we were having ‘twins’ again – I just cried (and laughed) and said there were 2 babies in there! He was jumping up and down screaming in excitement, and was the one excited for all of us for most of the pregnancy (since I was mostly sick and feeling sorry for myself!)
Fast forward a year, and even now, looking at both sets of our twins before my very eyes, I still can’t believe it!!! And I just laugh and laugh and laugh!!
Babies/ Parenting/ Photography

Baby Photo Tips

As some of you may know I love taking photos of my kids and post them on my Facebook pages (‘Thermotwinning’, ‘Twins and a Blog’ and my personal page) and my ‘Twins and a Blog’ Instagram account. I’m not a professional photographer, I have never done any photography course – these tips are just from my own personal experience!  I use social media as a tool to journal and be my photo album to look back at photos of my life and family. Taking pics of my bubbas is one of my favourite things to do! I took heeaaaps of daily photos of my boys since birth and have learnt aaaaallot in the past 3 years (especially having to get that perfect shot of BOTH of them!). I also love printing my photos into huge canvas prints around my house!

Everyone has different likes and tastes with their photos – I prefer portrait type photos (rather than ‘arty’ ones) as I love looking back and clearly seeing my babies faces. I took weekly photos of my boys for their first year, and have been doing the same for the girls (though their photos are more like every day to get through their gazillion outfits!)  – so it has been great to look back at my boys photos and compare them with the girls at the same age!

The easiest time to get in pics is before your bubs gets too mobile! Here are my tips for a perfect baby pic:


Use a firm but comfy flat surface on the floor. (In my opinion) the floor gets the most flattering angle for a baby if you take the photos right above their head & body as a birds eye view. Lie your bubs on a thick mat, sheepskin or a few folded blankets on the floor (keep it an even surface). I find it’s hard to get a good angle & they sink in too much if they are placed on a bed or couch.

Getting bubs to smile & look at the camera. Sometimes I have my phone in my right hand and shake a toy in my left hand right above my phone to gauge their attention. Most of the time I put my face right under my phone as I take multiple photos and make funny faces and voices to get them to smile.

Take photos about 30 mins after a feed – so they’re not hungry but also not regurgitating milk out the sides of their mouths.

Natural light – choose your spot. Use a bright spot in your house with natural ambient light from your windows but not direct sunlight (which then causes too many shadows). Have the top of their heads/sides of their body towards the light (i.e. don’t put yourself between the bubs and the light or it will get extra shadow). My favourite spot in my house is in the lounge room, a few metres away from the windows, with the curtains half closed (so it’s not too bright, but enough to get natural light in).

Use your phone – don’t bother with fancy cameras. I have always used my phone to take photos of my kids (I’ve always used a Samsung Android phone, I’m currently using a Samsung S8+). Not only is your phone easy to get out and snap away, but the quality of photos from phones amazing these days. With babies you have to be quick and phone’s take photos in an instant – I find there is tiny bit a lag/delay with shots if using a proper camera, and milliseconds count when you want to capture a smile or non kicking legs!

Take gazillion photos! With the digital age it costs nothing to take gazillion photos! I take about 50 – 100 photos for the 1 shot I post. I then go back into my phone, choose a few best photos with smiles and non blurry arms/legs from them moving, then delete the rest.

Edit your photo. Don’t worry about getting the unfolded clothes & toys lying next to bubs in the image. Crop the photo around your bubs and mat. I personally prefer portrait type shots (not arty shots) so I can look back and see their faces with how I remember them. And I also don’t like super duper filters – babies are so perfect you don’t need those full on filters! I usually just brighten & highlight the photo to reduce any shadows. If I do use a filter it is a ‘portrait’ filter on an app called ‘Snapseed’ (but it gets quite dark so I brighten  it up alot after that)

….And don’t forget the toddlers!
My only tip for taking photos for toddlers is BRIBERY! Most times my boys will voluntarily pose for pics for me or even ask me to take pics of them (trained them since birth lol!) but for the other times I have a secret stash of M & Ms which works a treat!
Good luck and happy snapping! Post/send me your baby spam if you give these 👆 a go!!

Love Sophia x

Babies/ Twins

The difference between DCDA and MODI Identical Twins

Up until Ethan & Harley were 10 months old, we thought they were fraternal (non identical) ‘DCDA’ twins – as they were in separate sacs/placentas. We could always tell them apart as to us they had a different head/face shape (Ethan’s head was more cone shaped after a natural birth as he was stuck there for a while clearing the path for Harley ) however our family/friends & strangers couldn’t tell them apart always asking if they were identical, and we kept explaining to everyone that they are siblings so of course they are going to look very similar!

Their milestones, height, and weight were eerily always nearly identical since birth so we decided to get a twin zygosity DNA test by EasyDNA when they were 10 months old just to be really sure. And what do you know, we found out they were in fact identical twins with identical DNA!

30% of ‘DCDA’ Dichorionic Diamniotic twins (separate sacs/placentas) are identical twins and the only way to confirm this is via a DNA test after they are born!

In comparison, Camilla & Madison are ‘MODI’ Monochorionic Diamniotic twins (2 sacs/1 placenta) so we knew very early on in the pregnancy that they were identical twins.

The way the placenta/sacs form for identical twins is determined at how early on the fertilised egg splits (ie. the boys fertilised egg split earlier than the girls).

Identical twins are not genetic, each pregnancy has the same random chance of creating them! The statistics for 2 sets of identical twins is about 1:100,000 and for 1 set of ID boys/1 set of ID girls is 1:200,000. And with that, we now have a complete family of 6! 👫

Christmas

Elfie Antics 2017 – Elf on the Shelf Ideas

I’ll miss all the Elfie fun from this year, but I’m glad to get my nights back for Netflix…and sleep!! I posted each day of Elfie on my social media pages, but here the highlight reel of Elfie’s antics for 2017!

Day #1 – Hi Elfie!

Look who’s back from the North Pole!! There are going to be 2 very excited boys in the morning!! We started this tradition last year but they were still a little young to appreciate it, this year will be the first time they will truly enjoy the spirit and magic of Christmas!

Day #2 – Elfie’s Shrinking Machine

Day #3 – Elfie’s Ball Pit (I was out all day/night so this was an easy one to put together!)

Day #4 – Crossfit Elfie

Day #5 – May the force be with you (the boys LOVE Star Wars!)

Day #6 – Skittle Rainbow (before and after pic)

I did a trial run before the boys got to do this in the morning! (I removed the ‘after’ example so it took them by suprise)

Tips:

  • Make sure all the Skittles are touching
  • Use warm water and add just enough water for it to touch the Skittles (don’t add too much water or the colours will run into each other and goes brown in a few minutes)

Day #7 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Elfie

Day #8 – Elfie’s Ginger Bread House

Day #9 & #10 – Elfie’s Magic Eggs

Elfie’s magic dust is made of rainbow sprinkles and glitter. I was going to use the standard Kinder Suprise eggs which are the same size as a normal egg but I couldn’t resist these huge Christmas Kinder Suprise ones! It is an easy one to switch over the next night!

Day #11 – Meet Frosty!

Craft paper cutouts and tissue paper for the scarf/hat. The hardest part of this was cleaning all the magnets/coupons/letters/photos/cards off the fridge!

Day #12 – Day Spa

All these magic tricks topped with Frosty appearing the night before was hard work! Time for Elfie to relax in a nice bubble bath, complete with Elfie sized body wash, candle, shot of milk and mini oreos.

Day #13 – Wrecking Ball 2.0

This was an encore from my 2016 fave! Last year I used a clear bauble filled with M & M’s. This year I used a Cadbury Snowbites ball. The boys had so much fun with this wrecking ball! See wrecking ball video HERE.

Day #14 & #15 – Elfie’s Magic Seeds

The soil was made of white sugar topped with sprinkles. I put it in cups for some depth so the Candy Canes can stay upright when ‘planted’. The Tic Tac’s are Candy Cane flavoured ones (but you could use red or white ones). I love these 2 day things as the 2nd night you just need to plant the Candy Canes!

Day #16 – Toilet Paper Tree

Day #17 – Do you want to build a snowman?

This was one of the boys’ FAVOURITE Elfie moments with this sensory play complete with Play Snow! It looks like snow, and can be moulded into fun little shapes! CLICK HERE for the easy Play Snow recipe!

Day #18 – Game of Thrones

Have you G.O.T the Christmas spirit?

Day #19 – Hammock Life

Elfie needs a lie down and cocktail with all this flying to and from Santa every night!

Day #20 – Elfie the Magician – the ‘cutting Hulk in half’ trick!

No sawing or cutting involved, just pure Elf *magic*!

Day #21 – Where’s Elfie?

Day #22 – Elfie vs Spiderman

NOTE: This is what a whole packet of dental floss looks like!! (this took about an hour to do!)

Day #23 – Transformers: Elfie in Disguise

This was a combined daddy and mummy effort and was one of the boys’ fave Elfie moments!!

Day #24 – Elfie’s last day before Santa arrives!

‘Hi Ethan and Harley!

Today is our last day together before I fly back with Santa to the North Pole.
Let’s have cuddles and take photos together – here is some magic dust to sprinkle on me so I can fly back home with Santa.

I have given your mummy the recipe for Santa’s favourite cookies for you to bake today to put out for Santa tonight.

Before you go to bed tonight, here is some reindeer food to sprinkle on the grass outside and a tray to fill with milk and cookies for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph!

Get excited, because Santa is coming tonight and you both have been good boys this year, and good boys get presents from Santa!

Love Elfie xoxo

Note: Reindeer food is oats, Magic Elf dust is glitter, and Santa Snacks board is from Thermoart.

Day #25 – Farewell Elfie!

Christmas/ Craft/ Non Thermomix/ Thermomix

Play Snow

This is an easy sensory play snow which looks like snow but can also be moulded and shaped! PERFECT for when you want to build a snowman…and you live in stinking hot Australia!!! (and perfect for an Elf on the Shelf activity!!)

 

Play Snow

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 400 grams baking soda (bicarb soda)
  • 50 grams conditioner

Instructions

1

METHOD (Thermomix):

2

Place all ingredients in bowl - mix 10 seconds/Speed 4.

3

METHOD (regular):

4

Place all ingredients in medium sized bowl. Mix through with your fingers or a spoon until all ingredients are combined and a 'snow' like texture.

Notes

You can use any type of conditioner - I use whatever's cheapest in my house ie. Herbal Essence.

Non Thermomix/ Snacks/ Sweets/ Thermomix

Ribena Jelly Lollies

This is officially my first recipe since having the girls and living life with 4 kids!!! This is a simple recipe mainly because the boys are OBSESSED with Ribena at the moment and OBSESSED with lollies. So I thought I would combine the 2 for a fun summer snack! I also have a different version of jelly lollies made with fruit juice – Fruit Juice Jelly Lollies.

Add all ingredients into bowl.

Heat 4 minutes/50 degrees/Speed 2.

Pour into silicon moulds and place in fridge for a few hours to set.

 

Ribena Jelly Lollies

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 100 grams Ribena
  • 300 grams water
  • 30 grams gelatine powder

Instructions

1

METHOD (Thermomix):

2

Add all ingredients into bowl - heat 4 minutes/50 degrees/Speed 2.

3

Pour into silicon moulds and place in fridge for a few hours to set.

4

METHOD (Stovetop):

5

Add all ingredients into a small pot, heat on low to medium heat, stirring constantly until you can see the gelatine granules have melted in.

6

Pour into silicon moulds and place in fridge for a few hours to set.

Notes

TO STORE: Place in an airtight container. You can leave this on the bench for the few days (in cooler weather), however these last a few weeks in the fridge. **The jelly lollies have a crunchier/firmer texture when kept in the fridge and a wobbly softer texture when kept out on the bench. ***You can easily pop these out of silicon moulds, but if they have a more delicate design you can place these in the freezer for it to pop out easier. ****You can use any other cordial you have instead of Ribena.

Baking/ Non Thermomix/ Snacks/ Thermomix/ Twins

Lactation Cookies

This is a delicious recipe for lactation cookies which can be easily modified to change up the flavours (as the one type of cookie tends to get boring after a while!!). This will be my last recipe before giving birth to twins #2 as I prepare for their arrival! The key ingredients for lactation cookies are brewers yeast, flaxseed and oats which helps with the production of breastmilk. The are packed with goodness so these cookies are also great to satisfy the constant breastfeeding tummy rumbles! You also don’t need to be breastfeeding to benefit from these cookies – the whole family can eat them!

Add butter, white sugar and brown sugar to bowl.

Melt 3 minutes/60 degrees/Speed 2.

Add brewers yeast, flaxseed meal, self raising flour, oats, chocolate chips, vanilla, egg and salt.

Mix 10 seconds/Speed 4.

Spoon teaspoon sized balls of dough onto a lined baking tray.

Bake for 9 – 11 minutes or until browned.

 

Lactation Cookies

Print Recipe
Serves: approx. 30 cookies Cooking Time: 11 minutes

Ingredients

  • 150 grams butter
  • 60 grams white sugar
  • 60 grams brown sugar
  • 60 grams brewers yeast
  • 60 grams flaxseed meal
  • 80 grams self raising flour
  • 100 grams oats
  • 150 grams dark chocolate chips (or choice of flavouring/s)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 x egg
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

1

METHOD (Thermomix):

2

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

3

Add butter, white sugar and brown sugar to bowl. Melt 3 minutes/60 degrees/Speed 2.

4

Add brewers yeast, flaxseed meal, self raising flour, oats, chocolate chips, vanilla, egg and salt. Mix 10 seconds/Speed 4.

5

Spoon teaspoon sized balls of dough onto a lined baking tray.

6

Bake for 9 - 11 minutes or until browned.

7

METHOD (Non Thermomix):

8

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

9

In a medium saucepan, add butter, white sugar and brown sugar - stir until melted on low to medium heat. Once melted, remove from heat.

10

Add brewers yeast, flaxseed meal, self raising flour, oats, chocolate chips, vanilla, egg and salt. Mix until ingredients are well combined.

11

Spoon teaspoon sized balls of dough onto a lined baking tray.

12

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until browned.

Notes

*Mix up the cookie flavours by using 150 grams of/a variation of different types of chocolate, nuts, seeds, dried fruit. **Once cooled, cookies can be frozen and defrosted when needed (you can also make and freeze the dough, and bake when needed) ***I love making these cookies in mini muffin pans - really easy to spoon in, bake, and store. ****You don't have to be breastfeeding to enjoy these - they are packed with goodness and great for the whole family (you can tell your hubby he's not going to start leaking milk if he eats this lol!)

Baking/ Healthy/ Snacks/ Thermomix

Easy Cheesy Bites

These are a savoury version of my 10 Second Grain Free Bites! Both versions are so quick and easy to make, and have been a hit with all of the family! These are crunchy and cheesy, and perfect to eat by itself or topped with extra cheese, smoked salmon, deli meats, avocado etc. This is a beautiful egg free and nut free savoury snack!

EasyCheesyBites-P01

Add tasty and parmesan cheese to bowl.

EasyCheesyBites-P02

Blitz 5 seconds/Speed 10.

EasyCheesyBites-P03

Add oats, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and chia seeds.

EasyCheesyBites-P04

Mix 5 seconds/Speed 5.

EasyCheesyBites-P05

Spoon mixture into mini muffin tray(s) with a teaspoon (approx. 1 teaspoon per mini muffin pan) *note mixture is dry and crumbly*

EasyCheesyBites-P06

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

EasyCheesyBites-P07

Leave to cool before taking out of tray(s).

EasyCheesyBites-P08

EasyCheesyBites-P09

 

Easy Cheesy Bites

Print Recipe
Serves: Approx. 50

Ingredients

  • 150 grams tasty cheese (cubed)
  • 60 grams parmesan cheese (cubed)
  • 100 grams oats
  • 20 grams flax seeds
  • 20 grams sunflower seeds
  • 20 grams pepitas
  • 10 grams chia seeds

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2

Add tasty and parmesan cheese to bowl. Blitz 5 seconds/Speed 10.

3

Add oats, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and chia seeds. Mix 5 seconds/Speed 5.

4

Spoon mixture into mini muffin tray(s) with a teaspoon (approx. 1 teaspoon per mini muffin pan) *note mixture is dry and crumbly*

5

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

6

Leave to cool before taking out of tray(s).

Notes

*If you want this to be gluten free, you can substitute the oats for your choice of seeds/nuts. **You can mix up the types of cheese you use, however I find a higher quanity of tasty cheese works as a better binder. ***Note the mixture is dry and crumbly before baking - the cheese will melt and bind all the ingredients together when baked.