Monday, November 2, 2009

Kitchen renovation - almost there

I've been a bit slack about posting lately but on a positive front, things have been progressing around the house. The kitchen is finished!!! Sort of. The bench tops are back, the cupboards have been relined and painted, shelves have been made and painted and most of the kitchen paraphernalia is back in the cupboards. It looks good and we are happy with the result. I would post some photos but my son has 'borrowed' the battery out of my camera.

Its bliss to work in a kitchen where there is now space and running water. The plumbing had to be redone so there were a couple of days where the water was off for quite a while. Everything works now but there are still a few small jobs to do. I'm still sorting through the stuff from the cupboards. Everything needs to be washed and put away. Thats a lot of dishes to do. Anything I don't use regularly, is cracked or missing a lid is being thrown out. There is no point in keeping stuff you don't use.

We keep asking ourselves "why didn't we do this years ago?". The renovation hasn't cost much (less than $500) and has made a huge difference to both the looks and the workability (is that a word) of the kitchen. We seem to put up with stuff for years but when we decide to sell we fix it for someone else.

The garden is almost there as well. We've cleaned up rubbish piles, put edging around gardens and pulled out huge amounts of blackberry. Some garden beds have been weeded and mulched but a few still need doing. The garden is finally looking good and we are selling the house. It always seems to work that way, we get a place established the way we like it and then move on. The new house doesn't have a garden. There a few succulents planted along one side of the house and a couple of bushes by the front door and that is it. It will be a challenge to get a garden started.

I'll post some photos when the camera battery is returned. I had better go and do the dishes so the kitchen looks good for its photos.

Have a great day,
Lynda

Friday, October 16, 2009

Eggs, eggs, eggs

Our chooks have been laying well, really well. Every time I turn around there seems to be another lovely fresh egg in the laying box. I really appreciate their enthusiasm but I just can't keep up with their production rate. A quick peek in the fridge this morning revealed over 6 dozen eggs!

I've given them away, cooked quite a few (omlette anyone?) and even let the dogs have the odd one as a treat. The chooks are producing faster than I can use them. I'm not complaining, too many is a lot better than none at all. Its Spring and the chooks are doing their spring thing.

I need some new egg recipes. Something that doesn't look too eggy as our son will be home next week and he doesn't like eggs. I have a fritata recipe to try out, it uses 4 eggs - now what to do with the other 70 eggs in the fridge?!

Lynda

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Garden up date

Another wet day today, good for the water tanks but not so good to get all the work done outside. Maybe the sun will poke its face through the clouds later in the day so some action can happen outside. The garden is starting to come together. I've completed lots of jobs we have had on the 'gunna do' list, you know stuff that you are 'going to do one one day'. For us 'one day' always seems to be just before we sell a house. The next owners get the benefit of our hard work. Never mind, I like to leave a property a little better off than we first found it.

The vegie garden has been ignored which is a bit sad but lots of work has happened in the general cleaning up category and weeding and mulching. Old bricks have been used as garden edging, this makes the garden look better and cleans up the piles of old bricks.

Quite a bit of bush fire preparation work has happened as well but there is still more to do. Its a never ending job. There is one more major area of blackberry to clear and then we are pretty much blackberry free.

If the rain keeps up we will work on the kitchen. Things have come to a standstill there and we really need to get it finished.

Have a great day,
Lynda

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Its that time of year again

Its that time of year again - Christmas is approaching. School is finishing up, my son has less than two weeks of uni before holidays and my daughter has about 4 weeks of school left. Before we know it Christmas will be here.

I had ambitious plans to make most of my Christmas gifts this year. Its time to revise the plans. We are moving house at the end of the year and still need to sell our existing home so time is going to be short. I'll still make some gifts but I think I might be kind to myself and purchase a few. I've already started making a couple, a cuddly blanket for a baby and some tea towels for an aunty. We will see how I go over the next few weeks. I would prefer to make a few gifts as I think home made is nicer and it would be great to use up some of the materials I already have here.

Money is a bit tight at the moment which is definitely another consideration. I've begun sorting through my craft/sewing supplies and its amazing what is there. I'll make what I can from the materials already here. I've banned myself from going to craft stores. I can't be trusted once I enter the wonderful world of the large fabric/craft stores, there is always something I just have to have.

Our new home is smaller so there won't be a spare room for me to fill with craft supplies. Its a bit sad but it will only be short(ish) term. We have plans to extend the house.

Have a great day,
Lynda

Friday, October 2, 2009

Settlement Day

Today is settlement day. At noon today, all going well, we will own our new home. Finally. It seems to have taken a while. In some ways it is a bit on a non event as we are not moving today. The house is leased to tenants and we will remain here until next year. The bank will do its stuff, we will have a home loan again (sigh) and that's it. And we will become landlords for the first time ever.

Normally when we purchase a new home there is much excitement as we are selling our old home and moving into the new. This time there is a time delay before moving day. We need to give our children time to finish school and then move. I'll have to be patient, something I'm not terribly good at.

Last week we had visitors, the inlaws came to stay, so I was inspired to make deserts. Deserts are reasonably rare in our home. Inspired by a glut of eggs and lemons I made lemon meringue pie. It was surprisingly easy to make and tasted yum. It looks pretty impressive too so it will definitely go on the make again list.

There are some bananas that need using in the kitchen, I can smell them everytime I walk in the door. They will be become a lovely hummingbird cake today. At least that is the plan.

Lynda

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cleaning Up

Where has the week gone? I had planned to be well on my way through the cleaning up and sorting for our trash and treasure sale but somehow things have not gone to plan. I've sorted through our books and managed to get everything on to one bookshelf. There are now three boxes of books to go. I donated some of the almost new hard cover novels to the library. They were happy to receive them. The rest will be sold or given away.

There were books all around the house. Books in boxes, books on shelves, books beside beds. I was amazed how many books turned up when I really went looking for them. My daughter has two very full book shelves in her room, she gets the job of sorting through them. Our son has a more modest amount in his room. From now on we will be relying on the library more and buying less.

We also have boxes and boxes of books for work. We haven't even started on those. The new house we are moving to is less than half the size of this one so we need to be ruthless and get some stuff out of the house. I'm sure it will feel better when some of the clutter is gone but its not much fun sorting through it all.

I heard a decluttering expert on the radio last week. He says that if you get rid of the clutter from your home you will feel better, be healthier, more organized and happier. Wouldn't that be nice?!

Lynda

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

End of an Era

Yesterday I went with my daughter to parent - teacher interviews. There is nothing unusual in that, I've been twice a year for about 14 years. I've rarely missed an interview (there was that incident in primary school where I completely forgot, sorry Mrs Green). What was different about yesterday is it was my last lot of parent-teacher interviews for my children - ever. Our youngest is finishing secondary school this year, in a few short months actually. It is the end of an era.

It seems a little strange not to be doing the normal end of year stuff - paying next year's school fees, receiving a horrendously long book list, helping the kids choose subjects for next year. Its also nice to be moving on. A fresh start, something different. Next year both kids plan to attend university. There won't be any parent - teacher interviews.

It will be a new era for our family but one I'm looking forward to. The kids are growing up, making decisions for themselves, that's what is supposed to happen.

Its a beautiful day here, hopefully I'll be able to get out into the garden. I hope the weather smiles upon you today wherever you are.

Lynda

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gravy

I made gravy! From scratch! No Gravox packet in sight. And it tasted pretty good with no major lumps.

Pretty exciting - well it is for me at least. Although I cook most things from scratch for some reason gravy has eluded me.Its always been easier to grab the packet from the cupboard and mix up a batch of perfect looking gravy full of artificial colours and flavours. A few months ago I decided no more would I take the easy way out. I stopped buying gravy powder. We ran out. My last roast dinner was served up without gravy because I didn't have any gravy powder and didn't know how to make gravy. There were queries from the family "where is the gravy?"

This time I decided to give it a go. The roast lamb was cooked, time to make the gravy. I poured the pan juices into a small saucepan, that was easy. Heated the juices and added an equal amount of flour and stirred to a paste, then added stock and heated until it thickened. Done. Simple. It tasted pretty good but was a much lighter colour than packet gravy.

Another thing I should have done years ago. It wasn't any harder than packet gravy. The steps are pretty much the same except you add gravy powder instead of pan dripping and flour. I'm sure its better for you. Yes, it contains fat from the pan but you don't eat that much of it and there are no artificial ingredients.

From now on we are having real gravy not packet stuff. Next step is to learn to make mayonaise. When the stuff in the fridge and cupboard is used up I won't buy any more. I'll have to learn to make it or do without.

Lynda

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cleaning up and books

The clean up has begun. Our daughter has announced that she would rather move at the end of this year rather than next, this is 12 months ahead of our schedule. All of our carefully laid plans are in disarray. We've decided to start preparations and see how we go. I admit the excitement of the move is catching and we are all looking forward to it.

We've been decluttering a bit half heartedly before but now things are a bit more urgent. We will clean up in two stages. Stage One is to get rid of junk and make this home we are living in now neater and tidier ready for sale. Our new home is half the size of this one so Stage Two will be to sell/give away/rehome any furniture we will not be taking with us. Stage Two will be done after the sale of this home.

I have a large pile of almost new, hardcover novels sitting by the door ready to be donated to our local library. I'll take them today. We need to clean up the very untidy bookshelf and get rid of the stacks of books on the floor. And the boxes of books in my wardrobe. That's my challenge for this week.

We will keep our favourites and a good selection of my gardening and craft books but a lot will go. From now on we will be borrowing books from the library rather than purchasing them. Its cheaper and you don't end up with piles of books all over the floor!


The rather messy bookshelf before the clean up


Lynda

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Rain

We woke to the sound of rain again today. Its great to see the garden wet. I feel like we haven't accomplished much in the garden but we keep on plugging away at it. Everything is a bit of a mess at the moment. We have had some storm damage so there are tree branches down in various spots and we've had to prune some branches back as they have been damaged when a large branch has fallen. There are prunings from the front hedge in big piles. It all looks a bit of a mess.

When we get a day of fine weather we will clear it up. Actually it will take a bit more than just one day. Anything big enough to be used as firewood will be cut up and stacked and the rest burnt. The piles of blackberry I have been creating will also be burnt. The summer fire season is fast approaching so cleaning up around the house is vital.



This is Amber, one of my garden 'helpers'. She loves the newly mulched garden beds. They must be nice and comfy. She has a knack of sitting right on top of my newly planted plants. I'm slowly getting around to weeding and mulching all the garden beds. It looks so much nicer when they are finished. Hopefully the mulch will keep the weeds down and hold in the moisture so the plants survive the summer. We are on tank water so the garden has to survive on the rain fall and the very occasional bucket of washing machine water.


The irises are flowering. These are as tough as old boots. They grow in sun or shade, need little water and flower for ages. What more could you ask for? I'm planning on taking some of these with me when we move.



It must be spring - the daffodils are flowering. These cheery yellow flowers are growing under the fruit trees. It always feels like the warm weather is just around the corner when the daffs start to flower.



The fruit trees are starting to blossom. This is from my favourite peach tree. It was grown from a seedling and bears masses of fruit every year. The birds and possoms love it too so its a race to see who gets the most fruit. We usually net at least part of the tree as the birds are not that good at sharing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

'Nourishing Traditions'

Just recently I received a copy of 'Nourishing Traditions - The Cookbook that Challenges Politically correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats' as a gift. Its a pretty sizable volume so I've been slowly working my way through it. 'Nourishing Traditions' is written by Sally Fallon with Mary Enig. They claim our western diet is bad for our health and the cause of many of the degenerative diseases which plague us. Ms Fallon suggests we should return to the eating habits of our ancestors, nonindustrialized people who were remarkably healthy. It seems pretty obvious that our modern processed food is not as nutritious as simple natural foods.

There is a rather graphic description of how margarine is made. The book contains such facts as margarine is naturally a grey colour and is bleached and coloured to make it appetizing. Not very appealing is it? Butter, on the other hand, is natural and contains beneficial fat soluble vitamins,arachidonic acid, omega 6 and omega 3, trace minerals and other good stuff.

We swapped from using margarine to butter about a year ago. After reading the book we will be sticking to butter. We've also stopped buying low fat milk. I wasn't impressed by how skim milk is made. A friend, who had worked in the dairy industry, told me years ago that if you saw how it was made you wouldn't drink it. Skim milk also costs considerably more than 'normal' milk. 'Nourishing Traditions' suggests we drink raw milk if possible and if raw milk isn't available then non homogenized milk.

Pasturized milk is heated which destroys all the enzymes in the milk, including the beneficial ones. Homogenized milk is strained through tiny pores under great pressure so the fat particles are broken up and are so small they stay in suspension rather than rise to the top. This makes the fat more suseptilble to rancidity and oxidation.

Yoghurt has also made its comeback in our fridge. I'm going to make more of an effort to include yoghurt in our diet. Both conventional wisdom and 'Nourishing Traditons' claim yoghurt is good for us. I've made yoghurt in the past and probably should give it a go again. I need to come up with some creative ways to hide the yoghurt in the food we eat as my husband won't eat it, at least he won't if he knows it is there.

We won't be adopting all the changes from 'Nourishing Traditions' but we will slowly make our diet more traditional and simple. The book itself acknowledges the difficulty of cutting out processed foods in modern society.

Lynda

Belinda's Back to Basics Challenge Update



Sowing seed or Planting


Not much gardening happening, its been cold, wet and windy. Its too dangerous gardening here in high winds as branches can and do come crashing down. We have a number down which need clearing up.

Planning for The Future

We've been to more university open days and my daughter is seriously considering changing her top preference for next year.

Working for the Future

The paperwork continues for the new home we have purchased. So far everything is looking good but I'll be glad when its all finalized.

The decluttering has started even if in a minor way. We have given away some old computer equipment to someone who wants it. Our old video recorder is starting to fail so we've been sorting through the old video tapes to see what should be kept and what thrown out. Its a slow process but I would rather slowly go through things than have to have a major clean out before we move. Our new home is less than half the size of this one so lots of stuff has to go.

Building Community
  • Voluntary work with a local youth organization
  • Read the local paper
  • Attended a fire awareness evening
Learn a new Skill
  • Tried some new recipes from 'Nourishing Traditions'


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back on line

The promised winds came and out went our power. The power was out for about 20 hours, coming back about 6pm last night. It wasn't too bad. I lit the wood stove yesterday morning which heated the kitchen and allowed us to cook. Food always tastes better cooked on the wood stove. There was a casserole bubbling away on top of it for most of the day.

There was enough sun to heat the solar hot water system so we could still have a hot shower. We installed the solar system about 8 years ago and its been wonderful. It saves power during the warmer months and at least heats the water a bit during the winter months when we get most of our power outages. I really don't like cold showers.

It was nice to get the power back though. There is nothing like electric lighting! I think it does us good to have an electricity free day sometimes, it reminds us how dependent we have become on electricity and that there are other ways to get the job done without electricity. I certainly don't want to go back to washing clothes by hand, I love my washing machine, but sometimes I think we take the easy way out just because we can. Its easy to line dry clothes though it does take a little longer than using the dryer but how many people just routinely throw the clothes in the dryer. There has to be a balance between convenience and saving money and the earth's resources.

I hope everyone else survived the windy weather without any damage to people or property.

Lynda

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wild and Windy

Its windy out there. Weather warnings have been issued for later today. We have been getting ready for the wild weather coming our way. We have already had a number of branches fall from the trees on the property. We've cleared them up a bit, they have all been removed from trees if they were caught up and are safely on the ground. There is still the job of cutting them up and removing them. I expect more will come down tonight.

The wood box has been filled so we don't have to go out into the weather to get fire wood. I've caught up with the washing and baked some bread. I've done what I can to get ready if the power goes out. There is a good chance it will.

The worse power outage we have had while living here is 3 days. If it goes out due to storm damage tonight it could easily be out for a day or two. Its part of living here.

Lynda

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Success

Our offer was successful, we will shortly own a new house. Yeah!!!!

This is to be an investment property for now with a view to moving in the next 2 years. It feels good to have a plan, to know what we are working towards.

There is heaps of work to do before we can make the move but there is no rush. At the moment the priority is on getting all the paperwork sorted out and finances settled. Then we need to get our existing home ready for sale.

The house we have purchased is much smaller than our existing home so there is lots of clearing out to do. Lots of clearing out.

Its pretty exciting but a bit scary as well. It will be a different lifestyle but I'm looking forward to it.

Lynda

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Waiting

Today we have officially put in an offer on a new house. Cross your fingers and wish us luck. Three parties are putting in offers so there is a bit of competition. We should hear in the next couple of days if we are successful.

Initially the property will be rented out and when the kids are settled at uni and I have completed my uni course we will move. Thats the plan anyway. Its a pretty flexible plan but it feels good to have a plan and something to work towards.

Well I guess I had better go and do some work to pay for this new house.

Lynda

Monday, August 17, 2009

Belinda's Back to Basics Challenge Update



Sowing seed or Planting


Still tackling the blackberry, it is the major weed in the front garden. I'm almost there. Once a patch has been cleared its getting a good carpet of mulch to help keep the weeds at bay. There is one patch of ivy out the front. Its the last patch of ivy on the property. I've been slowly clearing them. I'm trying to decide if I have the energy to clear this patch now or if it can wait. I suspect it will have to wait as there are more important things to do in preparation of the oncoming bush fire season.

Planning for The Future

We are still looking into tertiary education for next year but things are progressing. My daughter now has a place to stay if she gets accepted into the course she has as number one on her list. Nothing can be finalized until January when the uni offers come out.

Working for the Future

Submitted my application for university next year. Now I have to organize my supporting documentation and then wait unit January to see if I get a place.

Building Community
  • Voluntary work with a local youth organization
Learn a new Skill
  • Tried a new knitting pattern which I had been unsuccessful at before, this time it worked, it helps if you read the directions properly.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday already

Friday already. I doubt I got half the things done this week I wanted to. Life is like that. We've had some rain which is great and our water tanks are full. I haven't done much in the garden this week as it has been a bit wet.

Yesterday we visited my parents and my brother. We saw the new home he is building. Its at frame stage at the moment. New homes always seem to offer so much potential. He and his family are quite excited that they are finally getting their new home after renting for a number of years.

There was a trip to the accountant yesterday as well. I've got a couple of jobs to do for him today. Then it was home and out to another meeting. A pretty busy day all in all.

Today I need to get some work done for the accountant and finish off a few other tasks which have been sitting on my desk for a while. There is also a rather large pile of dishes waiting to be done. Boring stuff but necessary and I always feel better when I finally get up to date on the boring stuff.

My daughter is off to another university open day on the weekend. My husband will take her as I'm out with the youth group I volunteer for. We are slowly getting through all the university open days. Choosing a university is a big decision. She knows which one she would really like to go to but is worried she won't get the marks so needs a back up plan.

I guess I had better get my act together and do some of that work.

I hope you have a great weekend,
Lynda

Monday, August 10, 2009

A cold Monday

More rain today, its cold, really cold. I don't know why but it feels colder than the thermometer says it is. The fire is alight and I'm all rugged up to keep the cold at bay. Apparently we are in for a wet week. I would like to get out into the garden but won't be complaining about the rain, we really need it.

Sunday we were meant to be going to yet another open day at a university but our son decided he would rather stay home and get some work done so the trip was canceled. What to do with an unexpected free day? My husband and I dusted off our bikes and went for a bike ride on a nearby rail trail. It was a beautiful day and great to get out and pedal away. We are paying the price today though, sore legs and sore backsides. Those bicycle seats are not the most comfortable of things.

Tonight my daughter and I waded through the university handbooks looking for suitable courses for next year. She has to put her course choices in in the next few weeks. We've searched for courses, had a look at different universities and had an information overload. Its a big task trying to determine the best course to get the education to work in a job you will love. We've still got a few uni open days to go to in the coming weeks.

Hopefully by this time next year we will have both kids at university doing courses they love. The other big challenge is finding somewhere for them to live close to the university. I'm sure it will all work out. Our son is settled and happy at a regional university and I'm confident it will work out for our daughter as well.

Having kids leave secondary school and go on to tertiary studies is a time of uncertainty but its pretty exciting too. They grow up over night, we sent a teenager to uni and a young man came home. Its going to be quiet here next year with just my husband and I at home. I guess we will get used to it and there will food in the pantry with out the human vacuum cleaner living at home.

Lynda

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wet and windy

Another wet and windy night last night. The weather bureau forecast high winds and we got them. I haven't seen any storm damage on the property as of yet but I haven't been down the back where its most likely branches would have come down. Each year we do a clean up down the back and remove fallen and dangerous branches. I suspect there will be a few this year.

I've got lots of work to do today, mostly office work, as the weather is still very overcast its a good day to be inside. I'm trying to clean up my messy desk and get up to date with work commitments.

Then I've just got to get around to cleaning the house, the garden, some of my neglected craft projects ...... you get the idea.

I hope you have a productive Friday and a good weekend,
Lynda

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Carrots, carrots everywhere


Yesterday was a day dominated by carrots. Carrots! yes, carrots.

We eat quite a few carrots so to cut costs a little and because I was tired of running out of carrots, I now buy the 20kg bag of juicing carrots about every 4 weeks. That's a lot of carrots.

What do I do with all these carrots? The lady at the fruit shop always inquires as I often buy a box of apples and 10kg of onions at the same time. She must think I feed a heap of kids. Maybe she just thinks I'm nuts.

About 3kg goes to a friend. The bottom drawer of the fridge is filled with carrots as they will last for a few weeks in the fridge. 2kg gets grated, packed into containers and frozen. I'll use this to make dog food. 10 cups gets grated and made into carrot cake, a few of the apples also go into the cakes.


Three cakes cooked, ready for the freezer.


That's what I did yesterday morning, grating carrots and making carrot cake. The last batch are in the oven. I now have six beautiful yummy carrot cakes. Four of the cakes are in the freezer. They freeze well and make a great afternoon tea when visitors come over or when we feel like something yummy.

One is in the cake tin for this week's snacks and the other was half demolished by my husband when he came home from work. He loves carrot cake.


One carrot loving rabbit, the other was a bit shy and didn't want his photo taken.



A rabbit's delight.

The pet rabbits are happy as they are munching on carrots peel and carrot ends. The chooks got some of the peel as well.

Not bad for a couple of hours work and $12. Buying carrots in bulk is much cheaper. Buying loose carrots at the moment costs about $2 a kilo, the bulk carrots are $0.60 a kilo. Even if some have to be thrown out I'm still ahead.

The quality of bulk carrots does vary a lot. Some seem to go moldy the day after you buy them, others last weeks. Shop around and find a good supplier. It took a while before I found my favourite fruit shop. The carrots are sweet, not woody and last well.

Now I just need more carrot recipes.

Lynda

Monday, August 3, 2009

Belinda's Back to Basics Challenge Update



Sowing seed or Planting


Not much action in the garden, its been wet and cold and I've been busy fighting the blackberry in the rest of the garden.

Planning for The Future

Trying to work out how we can accommodate everyone with their tertiary education next year - there will probably be three of us going to three different universities. Its getting tricky.

Working for the Future

Attended an open day at Monash University to get more information about courses next year.

Building Community
  • Voluntary work with a local youth organization
Learn a new Skill
  • Had a go at baking bread and savoury scrolls and was surprised how good the result was.


Friday, July 31, 2009

A surprise in the post

The end of another week, they fly by so quickly. Our son is home again tonight for the weekend so hopefully some more work on the kitchen will happen. It would be so lovely to have the bench top back again.

Yesterday I went and collected our mail from the post office. We don't have a delivery service to the house here, all our post goes to the post office. I tend to only pick the mail up a couple of times a week, sometimes less. There is usually a nice pile waiting for me when I do get around to making the trip.

My daughter received a package which she opened when she got home. Guess what was inside - the very music CD she had been wanting to buy but thought was too expensive! She was a pretty happy young lady. Apparently she had won a competition and this was her prize. This is the third prize she has received in about three months. Pretty good, eh?!

She has been entering competitions from her favourite magazines and doing quite well from it. None of her prizes have been very expensive but its exciting to get something unexpected in the mail. She enters via the internet and not her mobile phone so it doesn't cost her anything. Its fun to win stuff, especially when its unexpected.

Today I have some work to catch up on, the tax man wants his paperwork done. Its raining so its a good day to stay inside. I'm hoping to make some more bread this afternoon. I'm getting quite into bread making. So far everything I have tried has worked but hasn't been perfect. Its a bit of a learning curve.

We are off to a university open day on the weekend for our daughter. The next month is full of open days so our calendar is fast filling. Year 12 is an exciting year in a lot of ways, its full of potential. The kids make so many decisions which affect their future. I admit though that I will be glad when we get to March next year and they will both be enrolled in Uni, have a place to stay and there will be less uncertainty.

I hope you all have a great weekend,
Lynda

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sisterhood award


I was awarded this award by Linda at Remote Treechanger. Thank you Linda. I love my award, my very first. I've only nominated 5 blogs as I don't read all that many due to lack of time, I could sit in front of the computer reading blogs all day but then nothing else would get done.

I hope you enjoy my list.

The rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link the person from whom you received your award.


My nominees are:
  1. Belinda at Belinda's Place
    Belinda lives in her mud brick place and does her best to live sustainably and help others along the way.

  2. Kate at Our Red House
    Kate and her family have recently moved to Adelaide and are enjoying life in a new city.

  3. Tracy at Beyond My Picket Fence
    Another Australian blogger, Tracy lives with her family near Melbourne. Tracy is a working mum juggling kids, work and home life.

  4. Toria at Tant Pis
    Toria, another Australian mum,enjoys craft and has some great ideas on her site. I like her ideas for the dish cloth KAL.

  5. Suzan at Scrub Oak
    My only international nomination, Suzan lives in the US in a most beautiful part of the world.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kitchen renovation update - with photos!

The kitchen renovation has come to a bit of a standstill. My son is back at uni with plenty of homework to do so the renovation has become low priority. I'm getting used to working off a small bit of plywood as my kitchen bench and hunting for oven trays in boxes. Every day is a bit of an adventure in my kitchen at the moment, thank goodness he didn't pull the kitchen sink off, that would have upset me.

This is what the kitchen looked like before, actually he had already started pulling it to bits but you can see the basic idea. The bench tops are solid timber and the cupboards are a mixture of chip board and brick - yep, brick. Everything is solid, very solid. There is a wood stove and an electric cooker as well. Its very country, definitely not modern. Beside the wood stove is a walk in pantry. You can't really tell from the photo but the shelving you can see next to the stove is in the pantry. Maybe we should have at least done the dishes before we took photos!


The timber was stained a dark brown. It made the whole kitchen dark. My son sanded back the timber doors and under all that dark brown was lovely light coloured timber. All the doors have been removed, sanded and painted with a clear polyurethane paint. You can see the before and after in the photo above. The doors are actually a bit more of a gold colour than in the photo.

My job was the painting so I tried to take advantage of each sunny day and get some more painting done. I ran out of places to put doors to paint so the wheel barrow came in handy. It made a great painting bench as I could move it around to stay in the sun. It did look a little strange with cupboard doors balanced on wheelbarrows, bins and flower pots up and down the driveway.


The smallest of the benches was sanded and painted. Before we began work this bench top was terrible - I would get splinters from it! Now its beautiful. The paint I'm using is actually a floor sealer. The tin advises three coats on a floor, I've used seven on the bench top. I figure if you can walk on it then it should last a while on the bench top. Seven coats gives it quite a gloss so its easy to wipe clean.

The bench top is resting on an old BBQ trolley. Once the kitchen is done I'm going to get my son to help me turn it into an outdoor serving trolley. You can't really tell under all the dirt but its made from jarah so will look beautiful with a sand and a paint.


One bench top finished and back in the kitchen! Its a huge improvement - its lighter, smoother, easy to clean and no splinters!

We've still got a long way to go but at least we've started.

Lynda

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A bit of baking

Once upon a time I was very good and baked most of our own bread. It was yummy and good for us but the company I used to buy my flour from moved and it all became too hard.

This morning I had a spurge of energy (very unusual that) and decided to bake. I quite enjoyed the feeling of dough in my hands and watching it rise in front of the fire. I felt positively domestic, definitely not a domestic goddess but definitely domestic.

The end result was pretty good, not perfect but pretty good. My husband has already eaten three of the scrolls and given them his approval. I'll see what my daughter says when she gets home. My son eats just about anything so his opinion doesn't really count.


The other half of the dough I made into focaccias but I didn't make them flat enough so they look more like rolls. Never mind they still taste good, I'll just have to try again.

I was hoping the scrolls would make handy lunches for my kids at school. Today's were a pizza roll with tomato, onion, herbs and cheese in them. Next time I'll try another filling, maybe ham and pineapple or cheese and vegemite or something with curry.

Maybe this will inspire me to make bread again, I'll have to dust out the old bread tins.

Have a great day,
Lynda

Monday, July 27, 2009

Belinda's Back to Basics Challenge Update



Sowing seed or Planting


No action in the vegie garden, my time has been spent mulching and pulling out blackberry. Blackberry is rotten stuff, prickly and inclined to grow right where you don't want it. The plan is to have the garden well mulched for the up coming summer.

Planning for The Future

We've been looking at a few more properties. We found one we loved but unfortunately it sold very soon after we looked at it. We will keep looking, there is no hurry. Meanwhile we are cleaning up around here and getting the garden looking a bit more respectable.

Working for the Future

Started our annual clean up for bushfire season. Its a never ending job, the leaves and twigs keep falling and the undergrowth keeps growing. Last summer's fires were a wake up call, we always cleaned up each year but probably not as well as we should have.

Building Community
  • Voluntary work with a local youth organization
Learn a new Skill
  • No new skill


Sunday, July 26, 2009

A 'Wicked' weekend

Time flew past last week and I really don't know what happened. I had lots of good intentions but not much happened. Friday night I had a lovely surprise. My family took me out for the night for my birthday. My birthday was earlier in the week and I had been told I had to wait until Friday for my present. There was lots of good natured teasing about it all week. My husband insisted we were going to the football but I had to dress up for the occasion. Finally Friday arrived and the secret was revealed, not the football (thank goodness) but the stage show 'Wicked'. My son even came home from uni and met us in the city.

'Wicked' is wonderful. My daughter loved it and went home clutching a copy of the soundtrack. Its funny, entertaining and the music was great.My husband's comment was -"there seemed to be a lot of singing", well doh! it is a musical. He's not a big fan of musicals. It was a lovely evening and a lot of fun was had by everyone during the week trying to guess the surprise and come up with 'red herrings' to trick me. I didn't realize how tricky they could be.

The rest of the weekend was much quieter with homework for the kids and gardening for me. The weather today was beautiful so I got stuck into pulling out the blackberry and mulching. There is a constant war around here between the blackberry and me. The blackberry seems to be winning at the moment. Its dreadful stuff and will grow anywhere. I've nearly finished one garden bed with lots more to go.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend,
Lynda

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Home Alone

Today I was the only one home for most of the day, very unusual. We work from home so normally my husband is home with me. Today everyone else had a place to be and I was at home.

When I'm home and the others are out I like to make the house inviting for when they return, I think its a nesting thing. Anyway for whatever reason I seem to get a lot more done around the house when no one else is here.

The morning was spent doing the dishes (Ok I confess they were yesterday's dishes) and made a Hummingbird Cake. I love Hummingbird cake, it gets better after a couple of days but doesn't normally last that long. Its yummy but full of good stuff so you don't feel too guilty eating it.

After the dishes were done I made a stew and put it in the slow cooker so I could have the afternoon free. The house also smells great with the slow cooker bubbling away. Sometimes I think its worth the effort just for the wonderful aroma of slow cooking food.

The fire was lit and burning happily, our dinner was cooking away so I got to spend the afternoon outside. The dogs and I spent a few hours in the garden and then down came the rain. For a few minutes it hailed and one of the dogs played in the hail. She seemed surprised that hard stuff was falling out of the sky.

All in all a reasonably productive day. It feels good to have spent some time outside rather than all day in front of a computer screen.

I hope you had a good day,
Lynda

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just because

These questions were sent to me by my daughter. I thought I would share them with you as they amused me (you could say I'm easily amused).

Can you cry under water?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

Why do you have to 'put your two cents in'... but it's only a 'penny for your thoughts'? Where's that extra penny going to?


Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

What disease did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they 'slept like a baby' when babies wake up like every two hours?


Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Why is 'bra' singular and 'panties' plural?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane?

If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours?
They're both dogs!

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune? Why did you just try singing the two songs above?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Have a great day,
Lynda

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sweet curry, a family recipe

I made curry for tea last night. Its a sweet curry and a favourite around here. Its yummy and easy to cook. I often cook it in the slow cooker so its super simple. The recipe came from my Mum. We loved it as kids and now we cook it for our kids. It tastes even better the next day.

It reminds me of the ad on TV where the soup is passed from grandmother to mother to daughter but in our case there seems to have been some changes along the way.

I was chatting to my sister and she mentioned the curry recipe. Apparently my mother had been at my sister's home when she was cooking curry. Mum commented on how nice the curry was and my sister said it was the curry Mum used to cook. Mum look puzzled - this wasn't her curry recipe. They compared notes and the recipe was the same but different. My sister ran off the ingredients, my recipe is a bit of a combination of the two with some of my own additions. Its amazing how much we have adapted the recipe over the years. I guess its a really good recipe if it adapts so well and still tastes great.

My version of the curry recipe

500g diced beef
3 onions diced
4 teaspoons curry powder (my family like a bit of spice in their curry, if you don't like hot curry, use less)
3 large granny smith apples cored and diced
a couple of handfuls of sultanas
a large tin of crushed tomatoes
sometimes I add tomato paste if there is half a jar in the fridge that needs using
a few spoonfuls of fruit chutney

Throw it all in a slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high and 4 hours on low ( a bit less is OK but you do need the 4 hours on high)
Or brown the onions with a little oil in a heavy based pot, add the beef and brown, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a couple of hours.

The apples should break down and thicken the sauce, if you want to you can thicken the sauce the traditional way at the end of cooking or if cooking on the stove top, roll the beef in plain flour before browning.

Serve with rice.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Belinda's Back to Basics Challenge Update



Sowing seed or Planting


Not much action in the garden, its been wet and cold and I've been busy with renovating the kitchen

Planning for The Future

I've decided to go back to uni next year. All things going well I'll apply to do my Dip Ed in 2010. Its a bit scary as I haven't been in formal education for 20 years.

Working for the Future

My son and I have pulled out the old kitchen cupboards and bench tops. One bench top has been sanded, varnished and returned to the kitchen. It looks so much better, under the ugly stain was beautiful timber. We still have a long way to go and most of the work will have to wait until the weekend as my son is back at uni. I'm getting used to hunting for bowls and baking trays in boxes on the floor. It will be worth the temporary inconvenience when its all finished and looking good.

Building Community
  • Voluntary work with a local youth organization
  • Caught up with neighbours we hadn't seen in a while and had a chat
Learn a new Skill
  • No new skill


Friday, July 10, 2009

Disposables

Disposable products are a part of modern life. Disposables are cheap and convenient but they do have a hidden cost. Disposables use valuable resources and end up in landfill - not good.

As part of the home audit from Down to Earth we have been looking at replacing disposables in our homes. I've been meaning to do this for quite some time so its time to stop procrastinating and get on with the job!

We use the following disposables:
  • plastic wrap in the kitchen
  • plastic freezer bags in the kitchen
  • aluminum foil in the kitchen
  • baking paper in the kitchen
  • paper towels in the kitchen
  • paper serviettes in the kitchen
  • tissues
  • toilet paper
There are probably more but they are the main products.

On the positive side we no longer purchase disposable dish cloths, I have knitted a good supply of cotton and bamboo dish cloths. I find the bamboo the best, its more expensive but very absorbent. I was lucky and bought the cotton on special so each dish cloth only cost about a $1 each. They are regularly thrown in the washing machine so come out clean and fresh. This change gets a big tick as an improvement on the disposable version. I have a pattern for a two colour dishcloth here.

Cleaning rags are made from old towels cut up into squares. My kids used cloth nappies but we are long past that stage now. Those nappies now make wonderful cleaning cloths especially for cleaning mirrors and windows. They are lint free after so many washings. This also gets a tick as its free and using something that would otherwise be thrown out.

I swapped to cloth menstrual pads about a year ago and wish I had make the change years earlier. They are far more comfortable and not difficult to wash. I bought mine but you could make your own. Another tick as an improvement over the disposable version.

We have been using cloth shopping bags for quite some time. I have a set for each car and they stay in the car so they are always there when needed. The green bags are usable many times over and fit a lot more in than the plastic bags, they are also more comfortable to carry. Another tick for an improvement.

I've started making cloth table napkins but need to make more. This will cut down on our paper towel use. I'll still buy paper towel though as we use it to clean oil and fat. These oily bits of paper are then used as firelighters in the winter. We buy paper towel made from recycled paper and one roll lasts about 6 months.

Baking paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap are all used sparingly. I recently bought a silicon baking sheet to replace some of the baking paper but haven't tested it out as of yet. I've also bought glass dishes with lids to use to store food in the fridge rather than plastic wrap. The dishes are Pyrex so can be used in the oven and microwave as well. Again I'll keep using these products but try and cut down on their use.

Tissues - we still use some but not as many as we used to. We all use handkerchiefs but sometimes grab the occasional tissue.

Toilet paper - we won't be moving away from toilet paper, the family would rebel, in a big way. I do buy a product make from recycled paper.

Overall we are doing reasonably well with the disposables. We have stopped using a few and those we do use are used sparingly and/or made from recycled products.

We have definitely cut down on disposables as we now normally only throw one small bag of garbage out each week. Most of our garbage is packaging from food. We have been trying to cut that down by being conscious of what we buy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A good day to paint

The sun is out today - yah!! I should be able to get some painting done. The kitchen is progressing well. Work stops and starts a bit as we are working around our normal commitments and visitors who tend to pop in over the school holidays.

Yesterday the actual cupboards were pulled out, a couple anyway. My son and his friend are rebuilding them today. My job is to paint the new creations. The kitchen is solid timber, no laminex or melamine in sight. Timber cupboards need painting. The external timber is being sanded back and painted with a clear varnish to protect it. The internal timber, inside the cupboards is going to be painted with my leftover paints I have accumulated over the years. My family think I'm nuts as the cupboards will be different colours but I'm not worried. Why can't you have different colours in the interior of the cupboard?!

Before everything is put back I'm going to have a huge clean out. I've already started filling the op shop box. There are things in those cupboards that never or very rarely get used. Its all going. My aim is to only keep things I use and have well organized cupboards instead of over flowing junk heaps.

It will be nice when its all done. Actually it will be wonderful when its all done.

We are working in stages as my son is back to uni soon. Stage 1 is to sand and seal both benchtops, all the cupboard doors and re fit out two of the cupboards. When my son has more time off he will do the next stage. I'll be thrilled if it is all finished by the end of the year. Its slow progress but I would rather work with my son that pay someone else to do the whole job in less time. I feel very lucky that my 19 year old is willing to spend time with me and help out on such a big project.

The sun is still shining so I think I had better make the most of it and get some painting underway.

Have fun,
Lynda

Thursday, July 2, 2009

School holidays and kitchen renovation

I've been a bit slack with my blogging lately. Life has been a little busy. Its school holidays so both the kids are home which is really nice. It might be the last time for a long while we have both of them here for more than a weekend so I've been making the most of it. Our son is at uni so holiday jobs and work experience will be keeping him busy for future holidays. How do they grow up so quickly? Part of me rejoices that they both have a career they are working towards and are happy, independent young people, after all that is what we are trying to raise them to be. Part of me misses those young people who depended upon us, cuddled up for a story at night time and loved to play games.

My daughter and I have spent a day shopping for her school formal. She has managed to buy her dress, shoes, jacket, jewelery and bag for under $200. We've bought most things on sale and some have come from the op-shop. Her jacket was full priced but she bought one she can wear again. I'm impressed. Some of her friends have paid more than $200 just for their dress. Its nice to see my once spendthrift daughter thinking about money and saving for her future rather than blowing it all on one night. She has also deliberately bought accessories she can wear again at her valedictory dinner later in the year.

The kitchen renovation is coming along. Its been wet and windy so not a lot has happened in the past couple of days. Both kitchen benches have been removed and sanded. Its a bit tricky working in a kitchen where there simply isn't any bench space. I think the cupboards are being dismantled today. They have chipboard shelves which I really don't like. There is plenty of timber lying around in the garage so my son is going to make solid timber shelves for me. Isn't it nice having a son who enjoys woodwork? I'm hoping to sand back and paint one of the benches today, if the weather is kind enough. The largest bench has a number of holes in it which need to be filled. That's the time consuming part, waiting for all the filler to dry.

For those of you who also have kids on school holidays, I hope you have a wonderful time together. Its amazing how fast the kids grow up and then you miss the things you used to do together. I've been told it takes a while to make the transition but once the kids do leave home life is pretty good.

Lynda

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More work on the kitchen

Work on the kitchen continues, though not much will happen today as both my son and I have other appointments. One of the cupboard doors was pulled off yesterday and sanded back. I can't believe the difference it makes. Under the old ugly dark stain is beautiful light coloured timber. I'm not going to restain it, it will be sealed with a clear sealer. Now we need to sun to come out so the painting can begin.

It is certainly cheaper to spruce up the kitchen when you have wooden cupboards and benches. They can be painted and sanded, unlike laminex. The kitchen cupboards in this house are what we call 'country'. They have been handmade by the original owners who built the house. The timber in the cupboard doors is at least 2" thick. They are heavy solid timber doors, door frames and bench tops. The hinges are big, metal and heavy duty. Its not trendy or fashionable but it is certainly durable. We are also discovering that timber is easy to sand back, paint and change the look of a tired kitchen.

We've been wondering what to do with the kitchen for quite a while. One family member ,who has done a number of renovations, suggested pulling the whole thing out (including the wood stove) and replacing it with white laminate. He thought it would brighten up the room a bit. I just figured he had no concept of the country look. I'm very glad we didn't follow his advice.

He also wanted to get rid of the sink. In his eyes it was old fashioned and ugly. In my eyes it is stainless steel, has a double sink and two generous draining boards. Why get rid of something that works well but has a few minor dents to replace it with a smaller modern sink? It seems the modern concept is to throw everything out and replace it rather than fix what is already there.

Oh, the wood stove is staying as well. Its old fashioned but it works.

Lynda

Monday, June 22, 2009

The kitchen renovation (sort of)

The start of another week and the start of a very long awaited kitchen renovation. Its probably not so much as a renovation as a spruce up. My son is home from uni for the holidays and he has promised me a week of labour to fix up the kitchen. Sons are wonderful sometimes (he did bring home an enormous bag of washing, it will probably take me the week to get through it!).

Today the smallest kitchen bench was pulled apart and the top taken outside to be sanded and sealed. The bench tops are solid timber but desperately need refinishing. I would sometimes get splinters from this one! My son is doing the sanding and the construction work, I get to do the painting.

We will see how we go. It won't all get done this holidays but it will be great to at least get it started. We moved in 11 years ago and said "we need to do something about the kitchen" but there was always something that got priority.

Tomorrow the plan is to take off the cupboard doors and sand them back. They are also solid timber. There is a lot of sanding to do then I just need a few nice days to get the painting done.

Have a great day,
Lynda

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cook books

Its official - I have way too many cook books. I have had a nagging feeling for some time that there were a few too many books crowded together on the shelf. I had even stopped buying them for a while, OK I didn't completely stop but I certainly slowed down.

My son is home for a couple of weeks and one of the jobs on his list is to finish the shelves he made me for my cook books. He is going to put an extra shelf on and put a ply wood back on the shelving unit. It was time to move the resident cook books. Each one was taken from the shelf, dusted off and sorted. The piles grew alarmingly high. I'm not brave enough to count them all but I know there are over 50. A bit excessive.

Some are cake decorating books as I used to decorate cakes. I don't anymore, partly because I lost interest and partly because my wrists are no longer strong enough to knead and roll out the icing. The cake decorating books are going. A few of my favourites are staying but the bulk are moving on. I'm listing them on Ebay today. Hopefully they will find a new home where someone will use them.

There is a large pile of mostly Womens Weekly cook books I need to go through. There are some there that haven't been opened in a long time. They will be going as well.

Amongst all the shiny new books is an old somewhat tattered blue book - "Cookery the Australian Way". It was my old school book and I still use it. Mine is edition 3. I was speaking to a friend the other day who has edition 1, she still uses it. Its the book I go to when I've run out of SR flour and only have plain, it gives the directions of how much baking powder to add, how long to cook a roast, the recipe for white sauce, my husband's favourite pancake recipe, making pizza dough. Its all there but without the glitzy photos.

I do like the glitzy photos though, what a thrill when you make a recipe and it turns out like the photo. It doesn't happen that often - at least not for me.

Its time for a cup of tea and some more book sorting.

Have a great day,
Lynda

Monday, June 15, 2009

Belinda's Back to Basics Challenge Update



Sowing seed or Planting


Not much action in the garden, its been wet and cold.

Planning for The Future

We've been looking at a few properties with thoughts of moving in the next 12 months or so. The house we are in now is rather large and the kids are moving out. We won't be moving in a hurry, we have time to look and decide what we want to do.

Working for the Future

Started pruning the front hedge. This is a huge job and I'm only about half way. The hedge had been neglected a bit and was getting tall and leggy. I'm hoping it will grow back thick and lush like it used to be. The front hedge gives us some privacy and keeps the dust down from the dirt road in summer.

Building Community
  • Voluntary work with a local youth organization
Learn a new Skill
  • Repaired a pair of my daughter's school trousers instead of throwing them out.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another cold day

Its cold today, cold and foggy. The fire is burning and the house will soon warm up. We have actually had rain this week, real rain not just a few drops here and there. I had forgotten what real rain was like. The water tanks are overflowing and there are puddles on the ground. After years of drought it is pretty exciting.

Its the last day of mid year VCE exams today. My daughter is looking forward to this afternoon when they will be over. She thinks she did well on one and not so well on another. We won't know until the results come out.

The cold weather has inspired me to continue with my knitting. I've completed a few more squares. The pile of completed squares is growing and my wool stash is shrinking. Luckily wool was on special last week so I could stock up again.


Another set of nine square completed, one in each of the nine colours of my quilt. Each square has a different pattern, its a bit hard to tell in the photo, but they do. The next set of nine I'm working on are all in stocking stitch. They knit up pretty quickly then I'm going to embroider hearts on them.

Better go and check the fire, its time for a cuppa and some morning tea.

Lynda

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Exam Week

Its finally here - the beginning of exam week. This week is mid year exam week for both my son at university and my daughter in Year 12. There has been lots of studying happening around here over the last few weeks. Every flat surface is covered with text books, pens, papers and past exam papers.

The first exam was today. We ventured out into the wet and cold to drop our daughter at her exam. She was a little nervous.Now its over and she is back home she seems happy enough. She has two more exams this week. Our son has his first exam today and finishes next week.

Good luck to all those kids studying who have exam week.

Its raining today which is great. Its about time it got wet around here.

Lynda

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Being Organized

I would love to be more organized, really I would, but it just never seems to happen. This week has been busy with work. A small project turned into a big project which hopefully, fingers crossed, will be finished today.

I also committed to helping a community group with a project. It was going to be an easy job, the bulk of the work was done and I just had to do some finishing touches. Famous last words. It turned out to be a much larger job than expected and the launch date is creeping ever so closer and I'm just not finished. The plan is to do some more tonight and tomorrow, wait for the necessary feedback from the rest of the group and complete it on the weekend.

It seems that I'm never organized in all facets of my life. If my work is up to date then the house is a mess, if the house is clean and organized then the garden hasn't been touched for weeks. I've come to realize you can't do it all. I work from home and have two children. Its been wonderful as the hours are flexible and I can work around the kids.

As a young mum I would worry about keeping the house clean now, older and wiser (hopefully wiser) I don't stress about the small stuff. The priorities are good healthy meals and keeping the laundry up to date. We all need food and clean clothes but does it really matter if the house hasn't been dusted for two weeks?

It would be nice to be a supermum and get everything done but I just don't think thats me. I have grand plans but somehow everyday life gets in the way. Taking the dogs for a walk with my daughter and having a chat seems much more important than weeding the garden.

Some time saving tips which work for me are:
  • invest in a slow cooker. It takes 20 minutes in the morning to throw everything in the slow cooker so when you come home at night there is a hot meal waiting and the house smells wonderful.
  • cook double batches of some meals and freeze half. You then have a simple meal for busy days.
  • record your favourite TV shows and watch them later. You can zap the ads and once the show is finished that's it you don't stay and watch what ever comes after just because you are there.
  • plan your meals and shop weekly or monthly if you can manage it. All those quick trips to the shops during the week take time.
  • when you do go out try and combine more than one job in the trip, go to the bank, post office, libary and do your shopping. Its better than lots of small trips.
  • say no sometimes (I'm still working on this one)
Have a good day,
Lynda

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More Knitting

My knitting has been progressing although a bit slower than I would like. I've completed about 25 squares for my blanket. This is good for me but I've still got a long way to go. I'm envious of those who knit up a blanket in a few weeks. My knitting has improved though, I'm a little faster and I don't have to unpick quite as often. Knitting in front of the TV probably doesn't help.

I had knitted my daughter a scarf last year. It was one of my first ever knitting projects. It had stretched a bit and gotten too long. I unravalled it a couple of weeks ago and promised her I would re knit it. I finished it a couple of nights ago, except for the tassels on the ends. My knitting must have improved because the 'new' scarf looks so much nicer than the old, the knitting is even and firm.

There are so many things I would like to knit but it all takes time. My next project is going to be a poncho for a niece. I want to finish a few more blanket squares first though otherwise the blanket won't be finished for years.

Its always nice to have a project on the go and a new planned to look forward to, its a great excuse to go shopping for new yarn!

Lynda

(I'll post some photos later, unfortunately I can't upload photos on this PC)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Carrot Cake

A favourite recipe in this house is carrot cake. Its moist, yummy and has lots of healthy stuff in it. When I make carrot cake I generally cook a number of batches at once. Last time I made 7 large cakes and froze 6. They freeze well. The mixture can also be made into large muffins which are great for school. If you are making multiple batches then I suggest you use a food processor for the grating, unless of course you really like grating.

Carrot Cake
1 cup grated apple
2 1/2 cups grated carrot
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup sultanas or currants
2 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour (wholemeal adds extra fiber, I often use spelt flour)
2 large eggs or 3 small eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons bicarb soda
2 teaspoons cold water

Mix apple, carrot, walnuts, sultanas, sugar, spices, vanilla essence and oil in large bowl. Add lightly beaten eggs. Add flour. Dissolve bicarb in water and add. Mix thoroughly.

Bake at 160C for approx 1 hour 20 minutes if using large loaf pan (check after 1 hour. When a skewer comes out clean its cooked. Large muffins take approx 30 minutes.

Cool and eat as is or ice with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
125g cream cheese
lemon juice
icing sugar (approx 1 cup)

Mix cream cheese and lemon juice until soft and creamy. Add icing sugar until required taste and consistency is reached.


Lots of healthy ingredients.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday

Monday again, how the weeks fly by. This weekend was a busy one. Our son came home from Uni for the weekend and brought the usual load of washing with him. Its lovely to see him when he comes home and hear of his life at Uni. He left Sunday night with a bag of clean washing and lots of home cooked meals for the coming week.

On Saturday I had to go on a course to update my CPR skills. I am required to hold a first aid certificate for my voluntary work and we have to update our CPR every twelve months. Its amazing how fast that twelve months goes by. Its good to have the skills and a refresher course is valuable but its a nuisance giving up all Sat afternoon. The travel is the worse bit - we spent as much time traveling to the course as at it.

Sunday we celebrated a couple of family birthdays. I finished the skirt for my niece Saturday night, nothing like leaving things to the last minute. I was pleased with the way it turned out but forgot to take a photo. Drats. So far my challenge to make at least half the gifts this year is going well. I did buy my nephew's gift though, he wanted Lego so Lego he got.

Most of our family birthdays are at the beginning of the year and the end of the year. The middle months are relatively birthday free. I'm hoping to use this opportunity to plan ahead and get a start on some Christmas gifts.It would be nice to be organized. We will see how it goes.

I hope you have a great weekend,
Lynda

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Beautiful Autumn Day

Its cold and foggy this morning but the sun is starting to peep through so it will probably be another beautiful autumn day. Autumn here means very cold mornings, beautiful days and cold evenings. Its a wonderful time of the year.

Its been a busy week, I've been out most days with the voluntary position I hold with a youth group. I don't normally have as many appointments in one week, its just a few things have all come at once.

Work has also picked up which is great but I would love to be out in the garden. Time management is one of my biggest issues. If I spend time in one area and catch up then other areas suffer. Balancing between my obligations and my 'want tos' is always tricky. Food on the table and clean clothes to wear are my priorities around the house. The vacuuming can wait.

The priorities for today are to catch up on some work, finish sewing a skirt for a niece, pick up my daughter from her after school class, a quick bit of shopping and prepare for a meeting tonight. Maybe somewhere in there I'll get out into the garden for an hour. I've got a nice big pile of strawberry plants to plant in the garden.

I hope your day goes well for you,
Lynda

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Belinda's Back to Basics Challenge Update



Sowing seed or Planting

  • Planted about 20 strawberry plants under the fruit trees, I've still got plenty more to plant.
  • The snails feasted on my last lot of seedlings so planted more cabbage and broccoli seedlings and will hope the snails leave these alone.
Planning for The Future

Meal planning is a bit hit and miss at the moment. We have had a number of nights when one or more of us has had to go out at night. I'm trying to cook a few meals in double quantity and freeze the leftovers. I'm also making frozen meals for my son who is at university.

Working for the Future

Building Community
  • Voluntary work with a local youth organization
Learn a new Skill
  • Struggled through what I thought was a simple knitting pattern, pulled it out three times and then realized I had been over confident and hadn't read the pattern properly! New skill- read the patterns carefully before you begin!


Friday, May 15, 2009

A Night with the Mums

This week we celebrated Mothers Day at the youth group I volunteer for. We invited our mums for a night of fun and games. The kids planned the program, cooked the food and made the invitations last week. This week there was much excitement as the mums arrived.

We played games, served supper and had a chat. The kids and mums had a great time. At the end of the evening a number of mums approached me for more game ideas. They had had a wonderful time and wanted to play the games at their children's birthday parties. It seems the at home birthday party is back.

Its probably a sign of the economic times but apparently the 'activity' birthday party is losing favour and kids are rediscovering the fun of at home parties. The hard economic times do have a brighter side - people are rediscovering simple pleasures, that has to be a good thing.

One of the games we played last night is like Pictionary with playdough. Its fun and can be played by anyone.

Divide into teams, any number in the teams, it doesn't matter. One person in each team starts with the playdough. They are given a secret object to make with the playdough. The other teams members must guess what it is. Once the team guesses correctly the playdough is passed to another team member who is given another object to make. The first team to guess all their ojects wins.

Make the objects to guess appropriate to the age group playing. Mix in some simple things with harder to guess objects. Examples include: chair, table, flower, tree, dog, kangaroo, a smile ....

Playdough Recipe
2 cups plain flour
1 cup cooking salt
1 cup of water
food colouring

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Add more flour if the mixture is sticky. You should have a smooth dough. This will keep for weeks in a sealed container in the fridge.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My favourite scone recipe

Years ago, with a new baby in arms (literally), I was lying on the couch, exhausted, watching day time TV. There was a cooking segment on a popular variety show and the recipe they were demonstrating was the easiest scone recipe ever. I liked the idea of easy scones so struggled up and found a pen and copied down the recipe. I've been using it ever since.

Its one of those recipes that never fail. Some batches are better than others but they are never a complete disaster. You can adapt the basic recipe and make fruit and spice, date or whatever takes your fancy. You can literally have these on the table and the dishes done in 30 minutes. I've passed this recipe on to friends and they all agree - its the easiest scone recipe ever.

You can freeze the scones if you like. They defrost well and either 30 seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in the oven gives you warm, fresh scones.

Enjoy,
Lynda

Easiest Ever Scones
4 cups SR flour
300mls cream (light cream works fine)
300mls water

Combine all ingredients and mix to a dough. If the dough is still sticky you may need to add more flour. Knead very lightly, roll out, cut into shapes, place on lightly floured baking tray and bake for 12mins at 180C.


These were made with half wholemeal flour and about a teaspoon of mixed spice and a couple of handfuls of dried fruit. Yummy warm from the oven with butter and a hot cup of tea.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Belinda's Back to Basics Challenge Update



Sowing seed or Planting

Not much has happened in the garden this week. My seedlings are desperate to be planted out but work and family commitments have consumed my time this week.

Planning for The Future

Menu planning
Monday -BBQ
Tuesday - Chicken and corn soup with home made bread
Wednesday -Irish stew
Thursday - Pasta carbonara
Friday- Spaghetti Bolognaise
Saturday- Aunty Beryl's chicken
Sunday -leftovers


Working for the Future
  • More decluttering including cleaning up an old study area that is no longer used to make it into a sewing area for me.
  • Wrote up a list of family birthdays and anniversaries to help plan gift making/giving and card making/giving.

Working for the Community
  • Volunteered for a local youth organization
Learn a New Skill

Sewed my first button hole. The sewing machine did most of the work and it was a little big but at least I did it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers' Day
I hope all the mothers had a wonderful day yesterday. We went and visited my mother along with the rest of the extended family. We spent a lovely afternoon together drinking coffee and eating cake. My MIL lives interstate so we rang her that evening.

I managed to finish the gift for my mother on time - just. Saturday was spent finishing it off and cleaning up my sewing mess. I literally had sewing supplies from one end of the house to the other. I now have my own desk to use for my sewing. It will be bliss. I won't have to lug the sewing machine around the house looking for a power point and a table no one is using.

The desk I'm using was once the computer desk. Its in a little nook off the hallway where the kids had a computer set up to use on the internet. It was easy to monitor their internet usage as we frequently wandered past. The kids got older and progressed to computers in their rooms as their homework load increased. The spot in the hallway attracted dust and lots of bits of junk that had no other home.

A quick clean up on Saturday left me with a nice big desk with a power point under the desk and good lighting. Excellent. The only draw back is there is very little natural light. I mainly sew of an evening anyway so that's not too bad.

What did I make my mum - two set of tea towels (dish towels) and a hand towel for the kitchen. I was going to make a second hand towel but ran out of time. Maybe next year I'll be more organized.

A hand towel for the kitchen.
I was planning on embroidering red hearts on the border on the towel but sadly I ran out of red thread.

A set of heart tea towels (dish towels).

A set of cupcake tea towels (dish towels).

Enjoy your day,
Lynda

Friday, May 8, 2009

After the Fires

Recently we went for a drive up through the fire affected country near us. The Black Spur, a road that winds through the mountains where normally you are surrounded by tall timber and lush tree ferns, is now simply black. The fires roared through this beautiful area. Normally you would only catch a glimpse of the sky through the Black Spur as the trees were so high and close together. Now the trees are black and the landscape far more open.

We kept going up to Marysville. There are black and brown patches on the sides of the mountains. The burnt remains of houses and businesses are evident from the main road. Then there will be a patch of green, untouched by the fires. Once at Marysville the horror of these fires hits again. The main street has been devastated. There is very little left. Even the playground is gone.

The huge trees are blackened and in some places have been removed as they were unsafe. Even the river looks smaller, sadder, it has lost its cheerful bubbling as it wound its way through the town.

Already there is new growth and you know the town will rebuild. It will be beautiful again but its going to be a long, slow process. My heart went out to those that lost everything.

We came home and thought how it could easily have been us. We live in a similar area, mountains, trees and lots of bush. Fires have roared through here before and probably will again. Its a sobering thought.

Devastation along the main street

The hills surrounding Marysville

Signs of new growth

Kepler lookout