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,

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.


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,

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,

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,

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,

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


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,

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.