Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Summer Salads

We're in the midst of enjoying salads at the moment. I know all of you in the northern hemisphere are thinking I'm a little bonkers...but for those in Australia, I know you're all looking for ways to enjoy your meals without heating up the house. For us, that means a lot of salad eating. By the end of summer I'll be wishing never to see another salad as long as I live, but for right now we're enjoying the sunshiney taste of yummy things not eaten since.....last summer!

Tinned Salad
One of my favourite I-can't-be-bothered meals comes from tins. Lots of salad things can come in a tin! We have beetroot (well ~ for those who like it....blech!), corn kernels, pineapple chunks, tinned potatoes can be rinsed, chopped and mixed with a dressing & fresh chives. Add some cold meat, sliced tomatoes and lettuce and you have dinner. Five minutes tops. You can pop all those tins in the fridge and then you cold salad ;)

Potato Salad
My favourite potato salad is just chunks of unpeeled desiree potatoes cooked until just tender. Then I make a dressing out of whole egg mayo (I use Praise brand) and a bit of dijon mustard and some fresh chives. Season with some ground rock salt and there you have it. I don't like my potato salad swimming in dressing. I like just enough for the spuds to be barely coated.

Sunshine Salad
I'm sure I got this from Steph's Country Kitchen Goodness. Her site has disappeared, much to my great sadness. Wherever the idea came from it's a goody!

Chopped lettuce or cabbage, crushed pineapple which has been drained (reserve the juice), grated cheese. To make the dressing just mix some mayonnaise with some of the reserved pineapple juice until the consistency is like a thinner dressing, rather than gloopy like mayo. Toss the dressing through.

Tossed Garden Salad
Really, a garden salad should be filled with things you love. For me, this means a red oakleaf lettuce, finely sliced spring onions, halved grape tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, shaved parmesan cheese and sliced kalamata olives. In reality, I put some olives on my plate and no one else's because no one but me enjoys them. I might also be inclined to add finely julienned carrots (I have a slicer thing that does this with no effort) or red capsicum. To dress, I mix 2 parts olive oil to 1 part white wine vinegar, a little dijon mustard and a little honey and then season with salt to taste. I don't buy salad dressings anymore, as I really do prefer this. You can leave out the dijon and the honey to keep it really really simple.

I'll post some salad main meals soon.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Last Menu Plan for 2008

What a momentous week for menu planning! The last one for 2008. Being well into the throws of summer now, most of our meals are focused around the BBQ and eating salads. Besides the fact that it's too warm to cook inside, quite often, we all get the can't-be-bothered's.

Monday: Corned Beef, vegies
Tuesday: Vegetarian Enchiladas, salad
Wednesday: Lamb Rissoles (garlic & rosemary), salad
Thursday: cold corned beef (leftover), salad
Friday: Singapore Noodles
Saturday: Either take away or cold meat & salad
Sunday: Warm Lamb & Feta salad

For those of us Aussie's who are attempting to avoid heat, I'll be posting some favourite salads this week.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Merry Christmas


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I hope you have all had or are having a very special time with each of your families, celebrating the birth of Christ together with people you love.

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For us, Boxing Day has dawned clear and sunny. We have had a wonderful Christmas. Now we look ahead to three weeks of Dh being home for summer holidays. If my presence here seems a little scant and scattered, it is because the lure of family and the excitement of summer fun together will be more than a computer could possibly hold!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Summer Vegetable Garden

Just as well I went out yesterday when it was warm and sunny to take pictures. Right now it's drizzling with rain and significantly cooler. Just what my vegies needed I think. A good drink and some respite from the heat sounds good to me.


The tomato plants are looking a little behind. I don't think they like where they are, but the alternative was fighting off jumping jacks so I figured they could be a little unhappy. Better than any of us getting nasty bites. I've had tomatoes over there before and they did produce, so I remain hopeful. Ohhh the taste of homegrown tomatoes....I can't wait.

I strung together a little climbing frame for the beans on Saturday, for two reasons. Firstly, they like to climb and perhaps happy bean plants will produce lots of beans for us to eat, as a reward for keeping them happy :) Secondly, it's easier for me to find the beans if I don't have to dig around the plants all in a heap on the ground.


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My to-do list for the next couple of days feels a little like Mt Everest.
  • Food shopping
  • Finish Christmas shopping with the kids
  • Clean bathrooms, dust & vacuum
  • Move Mr Busy...to I-don't-know-where-yet
  • Make Miss Mischief's summer nightie
  • Finish wrapping Christmas presents
Written down like that it doesn't seem so bad...I think it's the idea of heading down the hill into the fray that makes me feel a tad overwhelmed. Nevertheless, we'll get going early this morning (no telly watching for the little chickadees) and get that over and done with early before the worst of the crowds decide to join us. There are definite pluses to being early risers!

Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas Menu Planning

First of all I wanted to say thank to those who have been concerned about my little fall down the stairs the other day. My arm (where I collected the banister) and down my back ribs were a little tender but I seem to be doing OK now. I just have a lovely bruise on my arm. The girls got to and scrubbed the steps on Saturday so hopefully none of us will repeat the performance!

I'm sure, like everyone else, there are elaborate plans for special meals going on this week. My family are coming here on Christmas Eve, so I have more pavlova to make and I think I figured out that I'm just doing meat aside from that ~ Mum will bring and take care of the vegies. But oh what a week we need to fit into three days LOL. My biggest dilemma is where to put Mr Busy while my parents are staying with us. He usually sleeps in the room that now has a Christmas tree standing rather proudly....and taking up a significant amount of space!

In any case...menu plans. We have kids on holidays, and Dh as well for a few weeks now so somehow I think I should be planning lunches too!

Monday: Out for dinner
Tuesday: Honey Soy Chicken, brown rice, stir fried vegies
Christmas Eve: Stuffed Pork, roast chicken, glazed ham, vegies
Desserts: pavlova, chocolate tart, fruit mince pies
Christmas Day: Leftovers at my brother's place
Friday: Hamburgers, bbq'd potato cubes
Saturday: Roast Chicken, vegies (leftover meat for sandwiches)
Sunday: Marinated chicken wings, salad, bbq'd potato

I'm going to take my camera out later today and gather some pictures of the vegie garden. Quite a few people have commented about forgetting we're in summer here and that we're into peak growing season. That'll give me a good reason to do some more weeding won't it!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Five Sleeps Until Christmas


It seems that as Christmas draws closer the little flurries of activity around here will grow until they become cyclones!

We have some jungles...err..lawns to mow today. And then some vegie gardens to weed and mulch. 'Garden' is a bit of a loose term I think. There are rhubarb, beans and tomatoes somewhere in amongst the weeds. I also want to plant some zucchini. We need them to start producing a little later than they might otherwise, hence the late planting. Hopefully the rain will have washed away some of those pesky jumping jacks. Today is the kind of day where I am so grateful for children old enough to do things. Mr Busy mows, under supervision and we are all capable of pulling out weeds, and understanding which plants need to stay.

I slipped down four steps out the back yesterday. They've become quite slimy and slippery this winter, so one of us will take to them with a scrubbing brush. I have the bruises down my arm that will insist that this job be completed.

And finally, lots of present wrapping and cooking in preparation for the family Christmas gathering tomorrow. Dh's family made the wonderful decision to meet before Christmas....we get to actually spend time together this way rather than rushing off, and we're all there, which would not be the case on Christmas day.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Fridge Update

I found a very prompt, gentleman who altered his route for the day to come and see to our fridge before another job he had scheduled. He came within an hour of my call and has been and gone. The fridge appears to be doing the right thing again.

I, of course, am a few hundred dollars lighter for the experience....but the lovely man assured me that our fridge was worthy of repairing as it is one of the good ones. It's about 16 years old and was built back in the day when things were made to last.

Mr Busy has also provided my first experience of children saving parents money! As the man poured warm water over the defroster, which was covered in ice, Mr Busy sat behind the fridge and scooped out the water from the collection point at the back. He saved me half an hour's worth of labour. I love that boy.

I'm collecting myself quite a little gathering of repair and service people this year. If you want a good plumber/gas heater repairer or a whitegoods repairer, I have some lovely men that have visited promptly, repaired appliances and offered sufficient advice so that they don't have to come and visit so often. As nice as they are, they're not cheap! Cheaper than a new appliance though.

Christmas Decorations

My Christmas decoration of the house is probably considered quite scant for Americans, and not so far from normal for Aussie's. We basically only decorate one room ~ the front lounge room, where we open our gifts of Christmas morning. Dh & the kids put the tree up last Sunday while I was napping. I feel terribly guilty...but I was so glad to have missed that one. I find the event quite stressful, with three more than energetic children going full bore at the task. It's not yet the gentle and tranquil thing I have in my mind that it should be.

This morning I've finished off my decorating. My mother made us a wall hanging quilt, that gets hung in front of the fireplace ~ which is unused during summer months and so quite a reasonable place to put it! It makes the fireplace look more festive! We each have a little pocket with our names on it.


I also found this very cute little set of nativity figurines when we were visiting Bright in the middle of last year. They have a Christmas shop in the little town there and these little people just wouldn't let me leave without them. They also have a fabulous toy shop there. Better than any I've seen down here, apart from Geppetto's. So my little people sit on the coffee table in the lounge room.

My decorating is done.

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I've just discovered that my freezer is not freezing anything apart from already frozen meat. The meat is the only thing not defrosted. The fridge contents are not feeling quite as cold as they should.

I'm off to drag out the Engel to freeze things and phone some fridge repair people. Talk about timing :(

Thursday, 18 December 2008

San Choy Bau

I've had some roast pork floating around in my fridge this week. The last has been used up today with a very tasty treat for my lunch. There is just a couple of spoonfuls left to go with some lettuce tomorrow. I don't know about anyone else but I'm really not terribly fond of reheated roasted meats. I can't even put my finger on what it is that I don't like about it, but I am pleased that I've finally figured out what to do with leftover pork!

I made san choy bau. This is an Asian entree dish that is often served at the beginning of a banquet style meal. I never have iceberg lettuce, so I will admit that on my red oakleaf lettuce it was a tad tricky to eat, and next time I think I'll just shred the lettuce and drizzle the meat over it and have it with a fork!

San Choy Bau

1 cup or so Leftover roast pork, cut into tiny little pieces ~ almost minced
1 spring onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon crushed fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
lettuce

  1. Heat a little oil in a small fry pan and add the pork. Stir and heat through.
  2. When the pork is just starting to brown, add the spring onion, garlic and ginger and continue to stir while that cooks ~ about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the sauces and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes.
  4. If using iceberg lettuce, carefully separate the cups and place a couple of spoonfuls of the meat mixture in each.
  5. Serve.
The other thing I thought of today, is that you could put all this into rice paper and make little rolls. Rice paper is easily available...even in our Safeway, so you should be able to get it in any good supermarket. The rice paper comes in stiff sheets in a packet. The oakleaf lettuce would look remarkable with it's red and green, done in the rice paper.

Just dampen the rice paper until soft. You would probably need to soak them for a moment in warm water ~ read the directions on the pack. Remove from the water and add some shredded lettuce and a spoonful of meat and roll up. With rice paper, you don't need to cook it. It's something you eat fresh, just like that. A great lunch idea for guests, I think.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

End of an Era

Today is the last day of school for us ~ and then things will explode with childish exuberance and energy here at home. Mr Busy is on the verge of being out of control at the moment, such is his excitement and enthusiasm for life! I'm enjoying my final hour and a half of peace and tranquility!

This afternoon will make a significant ending for us. I will no longer be the parent of all Primary Schoolers. After today I will have a secondary schooler. ~sigh~ Wouldn't things be kinda nice if kids could just stay in primary school, where life is fun and full of adventure and the woes and cares of kids are relatively little?!

I'm off to prepare a prayer for our Thanksgiving Service, thanking God for our teachers. Hopefully I will hold myself together this afternoon!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Ladybugs


I found some very cute fabric on the 'reduced to clear' table ... just what I was looking for, for three little 2yo girls. I need to get a different type of ribbon for the third skirt, but these are the two I made up on Saturday afternoon, using this pattern. All three fabrics had ladybugs on them...very sweet.

It took me less than an hour for each skirt and I think they look very cute. I wish I'd known about this when my girls were little and the width of fabric sat nicely on them!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Meals, Menus & Munchies

This week for us, begins the family Christmas gatherings and meals. Ugh, all that wheat and sugar!!!!!!

Monday: Pork & Feta Rissoles & vegies
Tuesday: Pasta & veg sauce (I'm out...they can have as much pasta as they like!)
Wednesday: Chicken Parmigana, vegies
Thursday: Veg Patties, wedges, cauli/broc au gratin
Friday: Pork & Apple meatloaf, vegies
Saturday: Frittata & wedges
Sunday: leftovers from a lavish lunch....or tinned tomato soup!

I'm in charge of dessert at the lavish lunch. I say lavish, only because a SIL delegated different parts of the meal to different family members. Said SIL is doing the main meal and I am doing dessert. Others will do nibbles before, bikkies & slices for after etc. So...my contribution will be:

Individual Chocolate pavlovas with whipped cream and fresh strawberries
Baked Pistachio Ricotta with Cherry Syrup
Fresh Fruit Salad
Homemade Ice Cream

Saturday will be spent in the kitchen!

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I have nearly finished my Christmas shopping, thanks to a conversation at recess time this morning. I had lots of little tots to buy for this year so as we were talking Mr Busy's 2009 teacher said "Oh, I like to try and shop local...it's far quieter up here than down the hill at the big shopping centres". Well...that got me thinking, so I took myself for a lovely little tootle over to Sassafras to visit Geppetto's Workshop. I just adore that shop! It is brimming with quality toys that range from relatively inexpensive to rather extravagant in price. I left with an armload of beautiful wooden puzzles, some bath toys and many more ideas than I had children to buy for!

My tip for all you prefer a quieter shopping experience and have children to buy for, is to head up 'the hill'. Enjoy the drive. Have a spot of afternoon tea at one of the little tea houses or cafe's. There are lots of little shops in Sassafras and Olinda that will delight you. I noticed that Olinda has a 'Baby Geppetto's'. I didn't stop in, but I was intrigued. I don't know about the weekends, but during the week it's lovely and quiet up in the Dandenong's! Certainly beats the 45 minutes getting out of the car park that I heard about on Sunday. Give me trees and quiet stores any day!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Mr Busy's Performance

It seems like all the funny little tales of childhood come from the 8yo boy in our house. The girls have never been quite as imaginative as he. The last time Miss Mischief didn't want to go to school she just asked straight out "can I stay home tomorrow, I don't want to do the class detention ~ I didn't do anything wrong"....mixed with a lot of sobbing and boohoo'ing. First off...silly question for this mum with three 'dabs of mean' installed. Secondly, grit your teeth, suck it up and get on with it girly.

So...Mr Busy's little get-out-of-school effort was quite something to behold. He has had a cold this week. Every morning he has benignly mentioned that he feels sick. "Sorry bud, I think you've just swallowed too much snot overnight. You're going to school". He eats his breakfast, runs around the house like the mad thing he is and races off up the hill at school without a second thought.

Friday was another story.

He moaned and groaned in a way that only someone with a cold can do. I was playing the piano...he crawled into the dining room (where the piano is) and lay on the floor moaning. Oh Please!!!!! He still ate his breakfast and still annoyed his sisters between all this groaning. I sent him to lay down....he couldn't stay there, he just had to keep coming out and trying to make me feel bad for sending him! So off we went....with that pathetic little look on his face of "I just don't want to go and you're so mean and I want you to feel really bad". Poor boy...he so has the wrong mother for that!

At recess time I saw his teacher and asked how he was. "Oh, he doesn't seem sick, he just seems tired....he's been such a grumble bum". Apparently he'd been caught out copying someone elses work (not that it matters much 4 days before the end of school!) and wasn't in a good mood when he got sprung. So we agreed he should stay at school. He was just tired.

On the way home he found his energy. Funny about that!

To top it all off, Dh's sister and her family were here for dinner that night (Mr Busy was oh so fine by then!) and his cousin had managed a day off. I had to laugh. Mr Busy just looked at me with a look that said "he's so lucky".

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Christmas Tradition Quiz

Felicity did this on her blog and I really liked the idea. So, in my newly acquired Christmas spirit, here it goes....

Wrapping paper or gift bags? Paper. I was given rolls and rolls of the stuff from Mr Busy's Prep teacher. I have a few year's worth to get through.

Real tree or artificial? Artificial. It's more cost effective and environmentally friendly...and less messy.

When do you put up the tree? Any time from the 11th onwards. We follow Dh's Mum's tradition of allowing 'the twins' (dh) to have their birthday before we put it up. Plus, we all need to be home. That's quite an ask at the moment.

Do you like eggnog? I don't know. I don't think I've ever had it.

Favourite gift received as a child? A Baby Alive doll. Oh how I had coveted that doll for ever so long. She was the love of my life until I got to about 11 or 12yo. I got too old and she went mouldy. You gotta love the Tropics! I wish I'd never given her away though.

Hardest person to buy for? My Dh. No hobbies and doesn't read. And when you ask what he wants he says "I don't know".

Easiest person to buy for? My Mum. We have a lot in common.

Do you have a nativity scene? I have three wise men, Joseph and Mary hold the baby Jesus. I'll have to post a photo when I get it out. It's very cute.

Mail or email Christmas cards? Neither. I've copped out completely. Consequently I get very few, which is not something that bothers me in the slightest.

Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Some gadget thing the older of my two brothers gave me when I was about 10 or 11yo. I still, to this day, have no idea what it was or what I was meant to be used for. He couldn't tell me either!!!

Favourite Christmas movie? Miracle on 34th Street. The Santa Clause.

When do you start shopping? If I'm smart, in July. If I'm really silly (like this year), about two weeks ago. This year isn't working for me.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think so. At least not that I remember.

Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Fruit mince pies. Real plum pudding boiled in the cloth. Mum's sugar coated peanuts. That is really the ultimate comfort food!

Lights on the tree? Of course!

Favourite Christmas songs? Colin Buchanan's version of 'Who is He in Yonder Stall'. Gets me every time.

Travel at Christmas or stay home? We are always home for Christmas...our families are both here.

Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Nope. We don't have Santa in our home. A Christmas stocking yes...but no make believe stuff.

Angel on the tree top, or a star? Angel. It was a toss up but we found an angel we loved first.

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning...first thing. Both our families did this. FIL has been known to be up at 5am waking his kids!

Favourite ornament theme or colour? I like gold ~ if I could have a coordinated tree (post child-made decorations) I would have white and gold.

What do you want for Christmas this year? Ducted evaporative cooling....and on a more realistic note, the newly available 'Maggie's Kitchen' recipe book. Because Maggie Beer is my kitchen hero and her recipes are always beautiful, simple and fool proof.

Person most likely to respond to this? Surprise me. I have no idea! But if you do, then leave me a comment so I can enjoy the fun with you!

Friday, 12 December 2008

My New Skill

I learned something new yesterday. Predictive text on my mobile phone. Mum clued me in to the little secret I needed to make it work for me. It is so much faster! Yes folks, I have caught up just a little further in the advancement of technology!

Predictive text has always baffled me because I couldn't figure out how to make it go for a different word if the one that came up was wrong. It's all about the little button in the left hand bottom corner. What a shame I don't get that many SMS's LOL

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Dh is happy and Mr Busy is the most excited 8yo boy on the planet. We got the car back after being fitted with gas and a different spare tyre mount. Just in time for Dh to be out all over the countryside today making deliveries and installing coffee machines. Poor Dh has come down with Mr Busy's cold and is quite miserable. It's a pretty nasty one, although Mr Busy seems to breeze through it. His only complaint is that his tummy hurts. I keep telling him it's all the gunk he's been swallowing....he still eats three weet-bix for breakfast so he can't be too sick!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Christmas Spirit

The Christmas spirit has finally arrived Beyond My Picket Fence. I was kind of despairing of it ever arriving this year...I was feeling just a tad 'bah humbug-ish'. Not so difficult to come across in the modern consumerist culture we live in.

Last night we went to 'Road to Bethlehem'. What a moving experience. All of us enjoyed it and got different things out of it. Mr Busy was all about racing on to the next scene as fast as he could. My girls enjoyed their time with Rel's children. Us grown up's were taken with the amount of effort it took to put the sets and costumes together and the copious number of volunteer hours. Not to mention of course, the true-to-the-Bible beauty of the Christmas story. As I said we all loved it and Mum was very glad to have been able to be with us for the evening too. I feel very blessed to have been able to take advantage of the opportunity.

This morning I had my sewing circle break up...well, the group is having two. One for us Mums this week and one for everyone else who don't have children at home next week! I got up this morning and made Maggie Beer's fruit mince to make mini fruit mince tarts to take with me. Ohhhhh they are so GOOD! I must send some to work with Dh for his Dad. Dad is always feeding Dh treats and such. I think he will appreciate a little reciprocation. I have checked with him today ~ he loves mince tarts.

So with my house smelling beautifully of Christmas spices, I decided I needed to unearth the Christmas CD. We breakfasted together with that going in the background. Dh and I also managed to sneak in some Christmas shopping for our children. They will finish school next week ~ it needs to be completed before then!

So yes, I would say I have dusted off the bah-humbugs and am now officially ready to get into Christmas. According to Mr Busy's teacher it is now officially the Christmas season (as of Monday!). It took me a few more days to catch up to her LOL. The tree will need to go up this weekend, won't it?

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

It Was the Best of Days...

I kind of had to stop there...there is no 'worst of days' just now :) No...just lots of fun things.

It seems that this week is full of celebrating in our house. We have a couple of birthdays and the ensuing celebrations that each are worthy of. We have just taken delivery of the 'dream car'. Well...it's a dream car to us. Something that suits the needs of Dh's business and our family requirements. How wonderful to have one car that can do it all!!!!!! I still keep my car, but the Ute is gone :) The new car is so much easier to drive than the Ute ~ I've backed it out of the driveway, so I would know all about it LOL.

I can't wait to go and do 'The Road to Bethlehem'. I've been wanting to do it ever since I heard about it This year a very dear friend offered us access to some tickets, so the five of us and my Mum will join her family to experience the Christmas story in action.

See...lots of celebrating and fun going on here! I love it when the week is full of really good things to enjoy, instead of feeling like you just have to get through it all.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Square Peg in a Round Hole


Actually it's more like round peg in a square hole, isn't it?! This is the latest quilt block from my Block of the Month class last week. We're into hand piecing again. This is one of those blocks you simple cannot do by machine. Going slow, one or three stitches at a time makes easing those curved pieces a lot easier!

We have one more block to go in February, and then we'll be putting the quilt together!!!! What an incredibly efficient way to get a quilt made within 12 months!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Monday's Menus & Tidbits

This week is filled with special little celebrations. It's our wedding anniversary today. It's Dh & his twin's birthday later in the week, and Mum will be staying overnight again one day as well. Lots of good things...lots of things that will have me at home more this week ~ I might even get my dress finished!!!!!!!!

So...our meals may look a bit more dapper than usual, now you know there's a reason!

Monday: Baked Parmesan & Herb Salmon, vegies (the kids are having frozen fish)
Tuesday: Honey Mustard Chicken, vegies
Wednesday: Singapore Noodles
Thursday: Scotch filled with creamy mushroom sauce, vegies (the kids will have chicken with the sauce I think)
Friday: Slow Roasted Pork, vegies, (chicken wings for potentially picky eaters) Chocolate Berry self sauce pudding for dessert
Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Sunday: Soup (we didn't have that this past weekend)

Now before someone looks at all that and decides I'm depriving my children of all the special things....they don't like salmon much but love frozen fish. I bought an 8 pack the other day so there would be 3 pieces left for them. They're very happy. None of them really like beef that much but they will really enjoy the chicken. See....I'm not so mean!

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I love it when you go into an Op Shop and discover the very item you had been drooling over in a retail store. As a result you acquire the item at a fraction of its original price. Such was my joy again this week. A beautiful skirt that suits me perfectly was found at Savers last week. I had seen it in Target earlier in the year and desperately wanted to buy it then and there. The fabric was light, but weighty enough to fall beautifully and the detail of the pattern was embroidered flowers, in the same colour as the fabric. Simple, but stunning. I now have the skirt. It fits beautifully, looks great and it only cost me about 1/5 of the retail price :)

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Those Proud Moments

It took so much preparation and now it's all over. Year Six Graduation. We had the most precious night on Thursday night celebrating with our Year 6's. Specifically...MY Year 6!!!!! What a poised, confident young lady, with a sparkle in her eyes and more energy than I can imagine Miss Sunshine was that night. Well...she always is, but Thursday night just had her shining. We had The Dress and we borrowed this hairstyle from She Does Hair.

Each student delivered their third and final Toastmasters Speech and they all did magnificently. I couldn't have been more proud... of all of them. Some of the kids performed musical items, poems, a couple of dances. Their character, personality and creativeness were highlighted all the way through.

At the end of the night I had the privilege of handing them their Toastmaster certificate while one of the 5/6 teachers handed them their graduation certificate.

The Year 6's celebrated yesterday with a morning at an indoor pool and then lunch & shopping at the shopping centre across the way. Poor Miss Sunshine was so tired that she asked her teacher if she could go home with me instead of returning on the bus. Not one to miss all the fun, no matter what, I knew she was tired when she requested that I put her to bed and leave her at home while I picked the other two up from school.

I had a moment yesterday morning where I had to walk away from my baby girl who is almost all grown up. Tears in my eyes and the very real awareness that the end of Year 12 is only a short six years away. In that moment she will be a grown up with the world before her, as prepared for life ahead as any 18yo will be. Knowing how quickly her seven years of primary schooling has flown, I know that day is ahead and will be upon us before I realise where the years between went.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Floral Flannels


I love hand-quilting. I don't know why. It seems that most ladies who go through the quilt shop in Our Town send their quilts off to get machine quilted. I don't know....maybe it's the lack of control I am able to retain when handing over a quilt for someone else to decide what they will do with it. I do love sitting under a quilt-in-progress in the winter though. It's reason enough to have piecing completed through the rest of the year, just to be able to sit and be cosy in the colder evenings!

The quit above is the one I'm quilting right now. I bought the fabric about two years ago, just because I wanted a nice warm cosy quilt to snuggle under while watching telly. It's just for me...not for anyone else to commandeer or snaffle. The diagonal lines are quilted. The perpendicular and horizontal lines are just the basting that keeps the three layers together. That will get removed once the quilting is completed. Since the very outside border is quite wide I'm thinking maybe I might find a nice template and quilt a pattern in that area too.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

What a Blur

What a blur the last few days have been. A flurry of photocoping, typing, rolled certificates, cleaning, hair cuts, excitement over new dresses and pleadings for new runners and glasses.

I don't know if I updated from the other day after Miss Mischief's optometrists appointment? She's long sighted like her mother and requires glasses for reading and close up stuff. "Mum, when can we go and pick out my glasses" is her constant plea. She's so excited about the idea! I have a feeling that might be Saturday afternoon's job....along with new runners for Mr Busy who has skidded holes into the bottom of his soles!

I will have a new quilt block to show you after today. More hand piecing :) I've also been meaning to show you my quilting progress of the flannel quilt I've had on the go for 2 years. And of course, I have a few Courthouse Steps completed too. My I have been neglectful, haven't I?!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Frittata

I stumbled upon this idea last Thursday at lunch. One of the girls in my sewing circle group is on a wheat free diet and this was her offering for our feast. I really wish I'd thought to try it out before now!

Frittata

5 onions, peeled & diced
400g can peeled tomatoes, drained & chopped
3 slices ham, chopped
1/4 cup oil
30g butter
parsley and basil to taste
6 eggs
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  1. Heat oil in a large pan, add onions, cook until onions turn pale golden brown. Remove from heat, stir in tomatoes. Return to heat,, stir over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Drain oil from pan and allow mixture to cool.
  2. Combine onion mixture in a separate bowl with ham, parsley, basil and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Beat together eggs, and add to mixture; mix well.
  3. Melt butter in pan; while butter is still frothing, pour in egg mixture. Cool over very low heat for 10 minutes; do not stir. Place pan under hot grill for 3 minutes or until mixture is set. Do allow top to brown. Cut into wedges to serve.
I balked at five onions....I can't imagine the torture that would create for the female members of our household! I used one onion and I chopped up a bowl of leftover grilled vegies (capsicum, eggplant and zucchini ~ about a cup's worth) and added it to the pan. Really, you could use whatever you have in the fridge to get rid of: carrots, sweet potato, cabbage....whatever you have little bits and pieces of, because you don't need a whole lot of any one thing!

Would you believe I had this post half ready before I took the kids to school this morning. My how differently the day ended up being. I think from now on, if I'm at school for any reason, I should take my lunch just in case! It's getting to that end of the year where everything is happening very quickly and all at once.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Page 56 Meme

Rel has tagged me for the most ultra super fast meme I have ever encountered!

The rules:


Grab the book nearest you, turn to page 56 and go to the fifth sentence, typing that sentence and a few others around it.


The book I grabbed was not exactly near me...I have none on my desk. Who reads at their desk? Not me! So I got the book I'm reading, which is 'The Summer The Wind Whispered my Name' by Don Locke

"We'd been having those duck-and-cover drills at school for some time now, and I never quite understood them. For one thing it didn't seem like something we needed to practice."

I'm tagging Lisa, Tina, Frances and Kate

Don't Blink, It's Monday Again

What? Again? Already? I swear it was Monday just yesterday. The final weeks of the year are flying by oh so fast. So much is being jam packed into these next weeks that I have abandoned the calendar on the wall ~ the squares are much too small to fit in all the information required! I found some free printable weekly planner sheets so I am busily filling the spaces up on those instead. And miracle or miracles I have a diary now for next year. My book club and Women of Worth events are already in there as the first day of school for 2009.

But what's for dinner this week you ask? Well...here's the plan:

Monday: Frittata, salad
Tuesday: Ricotta Fritters, vegies
Wednesday: Honey Mustard Chicken, hassleback spuds, vegies
Thursday: Graduation Night
Friday: BBQ at school for lower primary
Saturday: Mrs R's Vegie Soup
Sunday: Homemade Fish & Chips

Hey how's that...I get two nights off from cooking dinner! And actually, I'm thinking that since Monday night's dinner got eaten on a night last week, I might shove a chook in the crockpot. I have a busy day tomorrow, which will be further occupied by an optometrists appointment. Miss Mischief keeps telling me her eyes are stinging a lot. I'm beyond trying to figure out if she's just angling for the glasses she so desperately wants to wear! It's time to bring in the professionals!

I'm going to post the recipe for the frittata later in the week. It is wonderful...why hadn't I had a go at that before now, I wonder?!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

"I Hate Walking..."

Mr Busy and I had a funny little conversation the other day...as often happens with Mr Busy. This time his teacher was in stitches too....and the art teacher!!!!!

Mr Busy had fallen off the flying fox and hurt himself just above one hip, so he came over (this was at the end of school...we were waiting for the girls to come down to the car park) and I gave him a cuddle and this was the conversation that ensued:

Mr Busy: Mum, I don't think I can go to school tomorrow (sob, sob)
Me: Really mate? Why is that?
Mr Busy: (sob, sob) Because, (sob) I can't run.
Me: I don't know buddy, I reckon you can go to school even if you can' run....you can walk
Mr Busy: But I hate walking (wail, sob)

Mrs C & I were, at that point, trying not to laugh. So we get in the car and they've all got their seat belts on....

Mr Busy: Mum, I think my back is broken
Me: No son, your back is absolutely not broken. You would not be walking if it was.

Well...he went to school the next day and told his teacher how he'd nearly broken his back on the flying fox. I told her the rest of the story and she laughed....a lot!

Next day, he was back on that evil flying fox, giving it a run for its money!

*********

We have our class info for next year. A very exciting day as all the kids in the car park came down the hill waving envelopes addressed to Mum and Dad and ripping them open!!!!! None of us can wait ~ we love this day. And then the kids begin ... "which class are you in...." With composites all the way through to Year 8, it's always fun to see who you'll have in your class this time.

Mr Busy is in a straight Year 3 (first time ever, this has happened) with the two teachers who will be taking that class ~ he is ecstatic. Mrs R will have taken all three of our children after next year. He loves her.

Miss Mischief will remain right where she is. She is very happy...so is her teacher, she keeps me for another year too.

Miss Sunshine has a new teacher...the daughter of our secondary art teacher. She is oh so excited. Particularly to have avoided having the other teacher who will be taking Yr 7/8's for home room. Dh is over the moon too!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Why God Made Mums

My Sister In Law sent me this little gem. It's rare that I do anything with these types of emails, other than hit delete...but this time I think it's worth sharing. It comes with a warning: Put down the cup of tea, coffee or whatever you're drinking, lest you spit it all over the computer screen!

WHY GOD MADE MUMS

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?

1. She's the only one who knows where the sticky tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mum just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of ?

1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mum?

1.. We're related.

2.. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's Mums like me.

What kind of little girl was your Mum?

1. My Mum has always been my Mum and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mum need to know about Dad before she married him?

1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your Mum marry your Dad?

1. My Dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mum eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My Grandma says that Mum didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?

1. Mum doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because Dad's such an idiot.
2. Mum. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mum is, but only because she has a lot more to do than Dad.

What's the difference between Mums & Dads?

1. Mums work at work and work at home and Dads just go to work at work.
2. Mums know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but Mums have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Mums have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your Mum do in her spare time?

1. Mothers don't have spare time.
2. To hear her talk, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your Mum perfect?

1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. You know, her hair. I'd die it, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mum, what would it be?

1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my Mum smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Stitching Day


Last week the invitation was opened up to our entire sewing circle group and I was not going to knock back the offer. Some of our Thursday gals were staying at the Quilt Shop in Our Town for the day to do their Christmas Stitching Day. A bit of a mix up with dates was the cause, but who am I to complain? The offer was: stay all day if you like, just bring something to share for lunch. So I opted for the stay all day with my own sewing to do. I took my chickpea and mango salad and with the vast array of delicious goodies to nibble on, I don't believe I'll need to eat dinner tonight. Perhaps a bit of fruit will be all I need to see me through to bed time!

What a perfect way to spend a day. I quilted....and we all laughed a lot. I might actually get this quilt bound before Christmas...maybe!

********

Speaking of fruit ~ apricots and yellow nectarines were the exciting find this week, at about $5-$6/kg they've reached my price range. The kids were very excited to discover these little treasures in the fruit basket this morning. And even more delighted when they were given permission to take an apricot in their lunch. Miss Mischief was in heaven...fruit is not her favourite thing. But apricots, apparently, will do the trick! Pity the season is so short!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

'Painted Dresses' by Patricia Hickman


My review for 'Painted Dresses' is now up at Relz Reviewz. If dysfunctional families intrigue you interesting art inspires you, then this is a must-read!

Rel also has a give away for US and Canadian readers. The 'All About Us' series, by Shelley Adina is up for grabs. All you have to do is post a comment at Rel's blog and tell her which favourite movie or TV star you wanted to meet as a teenager.

*********

I need a list. Lisa's list from yesterday just looked like a list I should have going on at my place. Laundry, dishes, clean out the fridge, vacuuming, clean heater vent, weed vegie garden, tidy my bedroom, grocery shopping (and then get it all put away!!!!), put the stuff back in the caravan that's been sitting there for about 3 weeks, get my bible study homework done by tonight.

My list is endless! It's so not a good day to have woken up feeling like I never slept at all. I think I should add 'take a nap' to that list! You know what though? I am ecstatic to have a day at home....all day!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Weapon

No, this isn't a post about children waging war on each other...or about me waging war on whatever issue it is with the kids that needs to be addressed (although, there are some of those, definitely!).

We're heading into early summer next week. Somehow or another, every year from now until at least Christmas tummy bugs seem to do the rounds. At school, at church...around the entire city of Melbourne, it seems. One year we were even afflicted, despite our lack of contact with anyone!!!!! I've already heard reports at school about kids not being well....and I've been known to tell teachers that they need to keep those kids way away from mine. Indeed, two years ago I told Mr Busy's entire class to stay away from him if they're not well. They think I'm funny. They have no idea how serious I am. I hate tummy bugs. I find the symptoms very traumatic. When the kids are in the midst of symptoms they're on their own. Here's your bucket. Empty it there, rinse and sterilise it there. Don't come to me or I'll join you and that wouldn't be pretty. It's the only time I am seen armed with a spray bottle of bleach, killing germs on every light switch, door handle and tap we own. I never sterilised my kids dummies and bottles the way I do when gastro is around!

A couple of weeks ago Mum was telling me what a fellow missionary family did to repel these tummy bugs when we lived in PNG. Why they didn't tell us this in our first year I'll never know! We all spent so much time in the bathroom it wasn't funny!

Two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a class of water. You can drink that once a day, or just when you start to feel a little bit iffy. These friends are adamant that they rarely suffer from tummy bugs. I'm adding the ACV to my shopping list!!!!!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Mad Monday

I'm not really feeling ready to dive into a new week. I feel like I really just want a whole day at home to potter my way through some tasks that really do need doing. I have a feeling Dh will be requiring a day from me again. It's not so much the time and the timing I think.

Monday: Lamb Rissoles & vegies
Tuesday: Chicken Casserole & scallop potatoes
Wednesday: Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Pesto
Thursday: Pasta & vegie sauce
Friday: Oven Baked Chicken & Rice
Saturday: Crumbed Chicken & Cranberry Orange Sauce
Sunday: Chinese Corn Soup & something?!

Ugh...off to sort out some children! Why is one in the kitchen when he has no reason to be, annoying the one who is making her breakfast...and here comes the third to make her breaky.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The Rain Came Down...


There was a song we sang in Sunday School about the wise man and the foolish man building their houses. Fortunately, there is rarely flooding in Our Town. Living in the hills means that unless you're at the bottom a valley or gully you have nothing to worry about.

I woke this morning thinking to walk, but the sound of pitter pattering on the roof had me snuggling back into warm blankets. It has been pouring and hailing this morning. There will be no gardening today, or walking. I think perhaps it might be a day to get the weights our ~ right next to a heater vent! And then I think 'Match Point' by Erynn Mangum will be my aim for the day. I giggled myself to sleep last night!

********

Miss Sunshine and I have been successful. I took her to one of the big shopping centres just down the hill to search out a suitable graduation dress. Her primary school graduation night is just around the corner and one must be suitably attired....especially when she must give a speech before all those parents! After two hours of walking (and stopping to eat dinner!) we returned to a store we had noted earlier, and tried on The Dress. Oh the beaming shine of pure joy on her face. This was it. We came home and enjoyed a cup of tea to reward ourselves ~ hers green, mine fully loaded with caffeine!

Miss Mischief's disappointment at being left with 'the boys' was assuaged with the promise of preparing dinner. I had planned a simple meal for last night and she was able to take over beautifully. All of a sudden she was not left at home, but the one who would ensure family members were cared for. She even made coconut bread, the kitchen was cleaned up and I returned to home to a little girl who shone with pride in herself and her accomplishments.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Worth It

I can now highly recommend that Warm Chicken Salad from Maggie Beer, that I mentioned yesterday. Of course, I made a few minor adjustments...some from the TV show and some because of the lack of smoked chicken!!!

I only had a fresh chook, so I mixed some garlic and lemon zest with butter and popped that in under the skin before roasting. That made for a deliciously moist and flavourful bird! On telly the other night, Maggie tossed the chopped chicken while still warm in a majo and dijon ... just to coat, not swimming. Then as well as apricots, Maggie also used prunes and green olives. I thought I had prunes and didn't, so I just had kalamata olives (my favourite) and popped them in at the end of cooking the apricots. Oh it was soooooooo good! My friend and I moaned and groaned in delight as we took first mouthfuls of different flavours! I will definitely be making that recipe again. It is perfect for lunch or a light dinner ~ males will find it hearty enough with the potatoes and women will find it light enough to suit their more delicates tastes. You could serve a robust crusty bread with real butter to round it out if you really felt you needed to.

Oh, and I used red oakleaf lettuce mixed with baby spinach. I'm not so much into rocket!

See...now you'll have to go and check out the link I posted yesterday for the recipe ;)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Mmmmm...Who Could Resist This?

I finally managed to watch last night's episode of 'The Cook and the Chef'. Oh my....as always it was delicious viewing. I'm catching up with a friend tomorrow. I think I might suggest that I should make this and we should have lunch together...seeing as how her husband will be home to look after their 5yo. It looks pretty tempting to me!

Warm Smoked Chook Salad

I've also printed out Maggie Beer's Choc Vino Cotto Pavlova recipe. After all, one must try these things out before she takes them to a family Christmas meal!


Click on the recipe name for ingredients and instructions.

A Country Dweller's City Experience


Dh & I had the opportunity yesterday to combine a necessary task with having lunch together in the city.

Spending time in the city, for us, is a rare thing indeed. We are country dwellers....semi rural really. I've had odd looks from those who don't know where we live when I talk about 'our town' because it sounds like we live hundreds of hours away from the suburbs which are just down the hill. Nevertheless Our Town is indeed it's own little hub of activity and everyone seems to know everything about everyone else. You can't get away with much at all! And we like it that way.

So...we get to the city and being the people watcher that I am there is much to see. Businessmen in suits entering fancy building lobbies. Uni students schlepping their way to classes. Well dressed workers with ID tags hanging around their necks, perhaps from the hospitals up in the top corner of the CBD. The well dressed up the Parliament end of town, to the less impressive statements made by those further towards mid-CBD. Dh commented that he is incredibly glad his city-worker days are well behind him. I think it would near kill both of us to travel the 1.5 hours it would take us to get in there every day. Could you imagine? Three hours a day on the train. People watching isn't that interesting! Dh was complaining when they had temporary lights between here and his office because a gum tree had ripped out half the road. "I had to wait for three changes before getting through!!!" was his constant lament for the few weeks before the road was fixed. His Dad just smiled indulgently...he travels an hour to get to work through many a set of permanent traffic lights.

My favourite part of the day was wandering through the city streets deciding what we felt like for lunch! Once we hit Little Bourke Street we knew. Yum Cha at the Shark Fin Inn. What other choice could there be...and the people watching continued there too! We began in an almost empty room and within 15 minutes the place exploded into a hive of activity. We ate well and enjoyed our walk back to the train station.

That's a whole other experience too. The underground stations in Melbourne are accessed via long, deep....long escalators. Dh was having a hard time with the height...long way up, long way down! Me...I was struggling with the angle. My eyes were doing different things to my ears and I just ended up shutting my eyes and being quite happy. Being on a different train line now, to when we were growing up, we now have to endure two escalator rides as the platform we needed to use was an extra level down. Oh the vertigo LOL.

It is always the most joyous thing to be driving back through the National Forest just before the town where Dh's office is. You can feel yourself relax and breathe a little deeper of fresher, cleaner air. It was a fun day together, but I do love Our Town!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

All Things Random

Dianne has tagged me for a meme to share six random things about myself. I was going to say I love it when a busy day presents me with an easy post where I don't have to think much. I think in this case it's more like, I don't have to come up with the idea....I'm going to have to dig deep. Six random things? Couldn't someone give me a list of what each of the six things needs to cover? I'm great at following rules and instructions! LOL

Here are the rules for this meme:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Here we go...six random things about me:
  1. I am a trained secretary. I chose that field of work because I was too scared to go to University. I lived not far from Monash Uni and the overwhelming size of the place scared me to death. My high school of 800 kids had me in fits as it was. Had I not have such issues, I might've otherwise been a nurse or a teacher. Many years on I can't fathom the idea of working in an office anymore. I've had too many years of freedom, being my own boss!

  2. I love to fly. I don't really enjoy little 6 seater Cessna's, but put me on a big plane and I am oh so happy. I love the experience and the procedures of checking in, boarding...in flight safety talks....the food (surprisingly, yes)....I love it all. Then of course there's the destination! That I've had to fly somewhere means it would take too much to drive oh how exciting that would be. I am truly the daughter of someone in the aviation industry.

  3. I am bi-lingual. Miss Sunshine's teacher is dubious of the fact that there is such a language as Pigin....however, you will find that it is one of the three recognised trade languages of PNG. Over there it is more widely known as 'Tok Pisin'. My children recently requested that I teach them. Grandma thinks that would undermine our ability to have a private conversation in front of the children. Then again, there's a lot to be said for being able to tell your kids off in public without looking like an ogre. I cannot tell you the number of times I got told 'pasim maus' or 'muski' and no one else knew what I was being told.

  4. I began wearing glasses in Year 10. It was something that only became an issue when re-focusing from the blackboard to the desk. I'd not been in a regular blackboard-using classroom for three years....it was a surprise to me! I've had the same prescription in all these years.

  5. I am a rule follower. If you're not supposed to do something, I don't...and I get uptight when others do. Take train travel. In Melbourne you're not meant to eat on the train or put your feet on the seats. Do you know how many people did that today????????? So glad I don't do train travel often! Or walking against a red walking signal. And talking on the mobile while driving. GRRRRR I tell you, city people are a bunch of rule breakers LOL. Maybe there's just more people in the city to notice so it's more a per capita thing?

  6. Going back to travel...I dream of visiting my BIL & his family in the States and I would take a little skip over and visit Europe....France actually. And maybe Switzerland. Yep...put me on a plane to those places and you'll see a very happy little person!
If you want to take on Six Random Things about Me, consider yourself tagged....and post a comment to let me know so I can come and take a squiz ;)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Groundhog Day


Have you ever longed for that movie to be true in your life? My golly me I surely do right now.

If I could go back about 18 hours I would have stayed out of the subtly disguised minefield. Had I done that I would not have stepped on the inevitable mine....one I was naively so sure I had avoided! Time and lack of combat has dulled my instincts.

Note to Self: Stay out of the minefield. Permanently.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sunny Monday Menu Planning

You realise how unimaginative you are when you get to 2pm and still haven't finalised the week's meals. I'm feeling very ho-hum and seem to have come to a bit of a road block. I've gotten through Monday-Sunday but I shop from Wednesday-Wednesday. Ugh. Despite what I've got written in squares, things will get swapped about a bit this week...the roast will happen before Friday!

Monday: Roast Chicken, vegies
Tuesday: Pork & Feta Patties, wedges, salad
Wednesday: Baked Gnocchi with roasted tomato sauce
Thursday: Singapore Noodles
Friday: Wraps (l/o chicken), salad
Saturday: Crumbed Chicken with cranberry sauce, vegies
Sunday: Quiche, wedges, salad

Deep breath.....I'm off to remove some tasks from my to-do list!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Deep Satisfying Breath

It seems that the last few days have been somewhat of a blur when I realise I've not posted! My parents have been here, pulling my attention away from all the normal things I might otherwise be doing. Not because they are demanding, but because time spent with them is precious and far too infrequent. We've had a couple of occasions requiring babysitting, so they graciously acquiesced while finding a way for Mum not to miss her craft group in the middle of it all.

My dress remains on the still nameless model....must find that baby name book! My Courthouse Steps are at a standstill, my handsewing is untouched. However, I did manage to send in a book review just barely on time and I am relieved to have been able to honour that commitment. I've also managed to get some walking in, so I'll be relieved to report to my health care providers that I've succeeded in that commitment too!

Here's hoping some more dressmaking makes its way into my life this week!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Gob Smacked


I had a whole post relating completely to Frances and not keeping up with lots of things. However, something far more exciting has come up!

We had our school association EGM dinner last night. Right at the end the Chairman of the Board presented five certificates of appreciation for a few of the people who have 'gone above and beyond in their sacrifice of time to the school'. The Head of Secondary and Community Relations Officer both got one, the head of the catering team and the parent who spearheaded our Trivia Night both got one....and me! My completely selfish desire to be involved in my kid's education has earned appreciation from the board chairman and the Principal. I feel a bit like people who say they feel guilty for getting paid to do something that doesn't feel like work to them!

It seems I'm quite the topic of conversation amongst the school leadership. That's what happens when you work in the classroom of the Head of Primary, and did I know this was happening, she asks? No I didn't!!!! Time will tell the result of all those conversations!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Meet the Newest Family Member

No, I'm not pregnant and we haven't got any pets. Just felt I should point that out right up front!!!!!! No....this new member of our family is purely for my benefit alone. She is already hard at work sporting a partially made dress and surprising the kids continually....no, it's not a real person standing in the corner! She does, however, need a name.


This beautiful lady has come to me thanks to a seemingly insignificant remark during church lunch event a few weeks back. The former owner muttered about having two and wanting to get rid of them. Meanwhile, I had been drooling over new models in Spotlight, deterred by the price. Yesterday I picked her up, paid the meager asking price and took her home. Within an hour she was clothed and I was able to adjust the skirt pleats to suit with the greatest of ease.

So, at tonights school association meeting, I believe the tradies I need to honour would be the seamstresses and tailors of this world, without whom we would have no clothing. My basket of stitching and a tape measure around my shoulders should do the trick quite nicely.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Christmas Musings

Christmas decorations have been in the shops here for a few weeks already. I keep scoffing at them as I wander past....or rather run past, in denial. Is it just me, or does Christmas become far less exciting the older you get? While my kids are dreaming and scheming about all the wonderful things they will receive and the fantastic time with family they will have, I'm feeling a bit 'bah humbug' about the whole thing at this present moment in time. The whole idea exhausts me.

I have begun the hunt for items that will delight. Fortunately all the recipients we need to care for are little. Very little. Mr Men and Little Miss's will keep all of them quite happy with a few other bits and pieces thrown in. As for my own children? Each year I fear they will be terribly disappointed. Somehow, beyond the upcoming Prep year which is now a distant memory in our home, new school bags and lunch boxes may not cut it the same way they once did. That, and they no longer play with toys. Well, Mr Busy does within strict self imposed limits, but not the girls. What does one get 11 and 12 year old girls who don't have love-it-to-death hobbies when the mother has issues with kids their age in make up?

Don't get me wrong, there are things I love about the Christmas season. Each year our church has four candles. One is lit each Sunday throughout Advent. Somehow this quiet, simple, unassuming ceremony communicates more 'Christmas Spirit' to me than all the commercial hype beyond our church doors ever could. I love that our school always finishes up about two weeks before Christmas, allowing us time to wind down before Christmas arrives. This year, I'd like to do the 'Road to Bethlehem'. Something I've been wanting to do it every year since I heard about it. Usually we love to spend as much time as we can with Dh's brother & his family during their annual Christmas trip home from the US. Alas, this year it is not to be.

I suppose one must get through the adult responsibilities that come with Christmas preparations in order to enjoy the season to its fullest. I think I'm going to look ahead to the things I love, rather than focus on the things I don't.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

'Dogwood' by Chris Fabry

I am discovering many pleasures, delights and benefits from reviewing books for Relz Reviewz. Of course it's always a pleasure to be reading and Rel delights me with an armload of good books with surprising frequency! She always has, in fact, it's just that now my armload also contains purpose. One of the very many benefits (beyond reading and reviewing, which would be enough in itself) is that I get an easy peasy post on a busy day!!!!


So...my review for 'Dogwood' by Chris Fabry has been posted. A fabulous read from an remarkable man. He'll have you hooked until the very last full stop. This is Chris's debut into adult fiction following a substantial reputation in children's literature. I hope he stays with us grown-up's for a while!

Monday, 10 November 2008

What's for Dinner Mum?

Good question! One I wondered about myself, as I was getting up. I have my parents coming to stay for a few days to do some babysitting for us. When they come I like to make meals that are a little bit on the nice side of normal. Dad adores Shepherd's Pie and it's the only way I can come and 'mince and mashed potatoes'. His idea for that gives me the heebie jeebies! Otherwise, I like to spoil them....Mum always gushes over a meal she hasn't prepared that has a tad more flavour than Dad will appreciate. Although he's always got bright shiny eyes that say the meal was pretty exciting, too.

Monday: Roast Pork (carry over from last week)
Tuesday: Meatball Stroganoff, wholemeal pasta
Wednesday: Pork Chops with apple & celery
Thursday: Shepherd's Pie
Friday: Honey Soy Chicken, stir fried vegies, brown rice
Saturday: Bacon wrapped chicken, roast spuds, vegies
Sunday: Homemade Pizza a la Miss Sunshine

And then Mum gets cranky if I get to the dishes before she does. I love my dish fairy!

Now, off to get some lunches happening for the kids, and pumpkin soup for mine. I think I'll stay on at school after lunch and get some Year 6 Graduation jobs done.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Not With Ink


"You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry,
written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone but on the tablets of human hearts."


2 Corinthians 3:3

Saturday, 8 November 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I have seven children in my house as I type. My own three are very very tired.....and they treat the four 'visitors' like family, literally. Technically, the four are related in a very distant way, so the fullness of their relationship is valid, I suppose. The children make it seem much closer LOL I had decided that no one should experience my children today, rejecting the whiney "can we go to Uncle W's place????". Too little sleep makes for very nasty little people. I had a nap to escape them this afternoon. Didn't work for them, but it worked perfectly for me! Time will tell as to whether they need space from one another!

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Earlier in the week I joined the Prep-Two's for an excursion to Healesville Sanctuary. It's a wildlife park for Aussie native animals. We had a fabulous and tiring day. The only disappointment is that the Tassie Devils were asleep...."but they're awake in the day time in Tasmania". Well kids, I think they're noctural unless someone is poking them. They wouldn't believe me, and the Devils slept on. Eight years olds know far more than a Mum after all ~ proof before them or not.

The highlight for me required nerves of steel, but so worthwhile. The Birds of Prey display is spectacular. Showcasing four native raptors in live flight, the attendants had them flying right over our heads. It takes quite a bit of resolve to have a wedge-tailed eagle fly inches above your head without ducking...but I managed it! The lower you duck the lower they fly, apparently. By far the most thrilling though, was watching one of the birds crack open a fake emu egg with a stone. Very clever bird, that one!

It's been about eight or nine years since I last went to the Sanctuary. It was far more interesting to me, not being 30 something weeks pregnant. I didn't spend the day desperately looking for somewhere to sit down this time! If you're ever looking for something to do not so far out of Melbourne, go and spend some time there. It is up close and personal and there are times scheduled throughout the park with different animals to meet the keepers and touch some of the animals....like a lace monitor! There is also an animal hospital where you can watch any operations being performed. My little group of kids wasn't interested in that so we raced on! Oh, and watch the ibis's...they're an opportunistic thieving bunch of birds who will snatch your lunch out of your hand if you're not careful.

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Tough Mum-Moments


What to do when your daughter wants to go to a particular event at a specific friend's home and both Mum & Dad are having a conniption at the very thought? You have Daddy tell her the answer. No. That way, I still get to be the good guy just sometimes! Do you think I could send him to school to answer the 'but why?' from the friend next week?

This is one of those times when I think I really like that I'm the kind of parent whose answer is "because I'm the grown up and I said so", and that is enough. Lucky for me, all those little friends know I'm not inclined to explain myself, so expectations are pretty low.

The way we parent might look a lot like self preservation and making our parenting life easier, but I have discovered along the way that we're doing a good job! Apparently it's called being the parent, not your child's friend. Who knew my stubborn nature would be the best thing my kids will ever have going for them, in a parent. I'd always thought I just didn't like being told what to do by kids (read: equivalent of waving a red rag at a bull) but it turns out the experts think its a good thing that grown ups are the boss.

They never tell you when you have a baby that all this other stuff is waiting for you just down the road a tiny little way.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

At the Courthouse


Not literally of course, for me at least. No, my Block of the Month Class last night has given me a new use for photocopy paper :) Courthouse Steps.

The picture above is the block I started last night. On the back are lines that you stitch on, and when you flip it over, this is the result. Like magic! All you need is a sewing machine, lots of 1.5 inch strips and a really good light to hold it up and see if the fabric is in the right spot!

The 'girls' tell me you can use the same pattern to do Log Cabin blocks as well. You just go round in circles instead of opposite sides. I'm off to cut some 'light' strips. All the strips I cut last night seem to be 'dark'. And a trip to the photocopier might do me well....to copy more 'patterns' so I can just keep on going.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tidbits

I have a full on day ahead, but just had to take a moment to say that the review is up at Christian Fiction Online Magazine here on their 'reviewers corner' page. I find it incredibly amusing that the link address says 'best reviewer'. But oh my how I loved 'The Moon in the Mango Tree'. It was such a touching tale and has stayed with me.

The other tidbit, thanks to Rel....Camembert cheese with a little dried apricot on top. Not the cheap Turkish whole dried apricots, but the halves, with the more intense flavour. Mmmmmmm YUM. Oh yes, I think that one's a keeper!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

This Week's Menu

We've enjoyed a wonderful weekend of fun and relaxation, thanks to a four-day weekend. Well...our school takes the Monday before Melbourne Cup Day. Very generous of them, isn't it. Mr Busy has already had a little cry because he misses all the fun we've had.

This week, when our wonderful weekend is but a distant memory, this is what we'll be having for dinner.

Monday: Sweet & Sour Pork, brown rice
Tuesday: Tuna & Pasta Casserole
Wednesday: Apricot Chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots, broccoli
Thursday: Herbed Ricotta Fritters, vegies
Friday: Pasta with Creamy Bacon & Mushroom Sauce
Saturday: Quiche, vegies
Sunday: Roast, vegies (whatever meat is economical)

My next food related project is to look into getting a new bread machine. Mine is sounding very unwell and the seal in the bottom around the paddle has deteriorated. I just can't do a three week holiday over summer with bread prices being what they are.

Friday, 31 October 2008

A Bit of Excitement

I got an email yesterday from my friend Rel. She wondered how I felt about having one of my reviews in 'Christian Fiction Online Magazine'. She had submitted three and mine was one they chose. I could give you a great long list of adjectives about how I feel. Excited and disbelieving would rate quite highly amongst the many!

So...from 1 November (I'm assuming that's US time), you will find my review for 'The Moon in the Mango Tree' featured in the magazine. I don't have a direct link yet, so you'll have to have a fun little surf through the magazine to find it.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

'Diamond Duo' by Marcia Gruver


Lovers of beautifully written fiction, you will find my review for 'Diamond Duo' is now up at Relz Reviewz. This is the first in a series, so I'm looking forward to reading more from Marcia in the future.

In The Garden

We were given some freebie organic vegie seedlings about two weeks ago from a local farmer, who is also a parent at our school. Yesterday I finally got them in the ground. In doing so, I found a new Jumping Jack's nest so I will need to find a vegie gardening friendly way to get rid of those nasty little critters.

Beans went in first. Perhaps too close together, but I didn't want to get close to the Jumping Jacks.
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Then came the tomatoes. Apparently this are shrub varieties and do not need staking. We shall see!
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Finally, the rhubarb. It died off at the end of last season and has come back with a vengence! I looked out there not 3 weeks ago and lo and behold look what happened!!!! It grows in spite of me or the lack of rain! I think I might have to make some rhubarb muffins for the weekend.

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I need to go in search of zucchini and eggplant seedlings now...and whatever else I may happen to see that we like eating. I was so impressed with Kate's eggplants last year that I figure if they won't grow where I live, then they won't grow anywhere. There are commerical nursery growers over my back fence, after all!