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Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Surprise!


When I opened Miss Mischief's curtain on Monday morning this was the sight that greeted me. I had always looked at the neighbour's trees and wondered if they would hit the house if they fell over. Now we know. They would only get as far as damaging the fence.

Miss Sunshine's reaction was "WHOA. Don't worry Mum, it didn't hit the lemon tree". My first thought was "I'm glad we didn't have vegies in the garden right now" LOL. That's where it would be, if it were summer.

I noticed yesterday that there was a man wandering about on the other side of the fence looking at what had happened, so hopefully now that they know, it will get taken care of. The neighbours back there are commercial nursery growers and have a huge property so it didn't surprise me that it took a bit for them to notice.

And for those of you naysayers, see, Melbourne DOES get sunshine in winter. Brilliant, beautiful sunshine....albeit with no warmth. It must have been at least 0C this morning around here, given the frost.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

If I Knew Then...


...What I know now, I would've sailed through school a lot easier. What I know now is that fractions do make sense and I do know what to do with them after all! Maths actually makes sense ~ who knew?! I also understand what debating is all about and how to go about preparing for it. I guess it just takes a second go around sometimes LOL.

Meanwhile, 'What Lies Within' beckons.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Monday's Maybe-Menu

After far too many hours watching 'Anne of Green Gables' (and not yet finished!) I've realised that my menu plan is yet unfinished and I find myself in a rut with very little inspiration! Perhaps a good thing, in that I will be at school on Thursday afternoon and all day Friday...so now I know to plan meals that suit a busy day. I have a LOT of reading to do before Friday night. I hate putting down a book half way through to pick up another, so I'm determined to get it all done in order. Some late nighters and bare minimum housework should do the trick. Don't worry Rel, I will have the book finished in time, with questions for Karen prepared! I'm sooooooo looking forward to book club on Friday!

Oh, that's right, menu plan. See, now I'm procrastinating!

Monday: Lamb Rissoles & vegies
Tuesday: Apricot Chicken, mashed potatoes, vegies
Wednesday: Some Asian pork thing rice noodles & vegies
Thursday: Beef & Rice Noodles
Friday: Pasta with vegie Sauce
Saturday: Chinese Corn Soup & Char Siu Bau
Sunday: Roast

The reason Wednesday is a bit vague is that Dh brought home a piece of roast pork after providing his services to a client yesterday. Because it's already cooked I'm thinking of chopping it up and warming it through with roast sweet pork (char siu) ingredients and then making that into a Hor Fun type of meal. I dunno yet. Hor Fun is style of Asian noodle dish that uses wide flat rice noodles.

Now that I've got that planned I'm off to do some reading.....

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Wonderful Weekends

Yesterday was lovely and sunny in the morning. What wonderful weather for our Prep Open Day at school. The Year 5 & 6's were asked to do the sausage sizzle, so the girls and I went and helped with that. And then the kids played while parents and teachers chatted together between visitors coming to see the school. It really was a great morning.

Today is overcast and and drizzly. Perfect for watching 'Anne of Green Gables'. Perfect for sitting near a heater vent at church. Mr Busy's seat choice couldn't have been better! This morning we had a lady speak, telling us of her story of being healed and how God has worked in her life. She reminded me that the journey or process is just as important as the end result. That faith is not just the goal at the end, but how we live here and now.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Friday's Shenanigans....and Pie Fillings

You'd think I'd been busy all day, since I'm posting now and it's after 4pm! The beginning of the school terms seems to bring with it more routine and less time for lolligagging around on the computer!

Friday's always begin with a morning cuppa in the staffroom at school with other Mum's. Not to say we sit and do nothing but talk ~ we do our bit for the office staff. Our school mails out the newsletter to Grandparents, so we do that for the precious Mrs S! I've also been investigating and ordering samples and a school kit for the Year 5 girls and their upcoming personal development chat next week. I got Miss Mischief's sample pack in the mail today and have emailed a photo of the contents to her teacher so that she can make informed recommendations to the parents of the girls.

Today my little now-5yo buddy (the son of a good friend) wanted to come to my place ~ so he and his Mum came for lunch. He bopped over to me during morning cuppa and asked if he could come. I made her the Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Pesto I had tried recently. She was completely thrilled!

Someone asked about what to put in that pastry case? Well...you could go on forever. Blend creamed cheese with smoked salmon for little tarts. Or you could put lemon curd in for sweet ones. If you want a pie, some tinned pie apples with a light sprinkle of cinnamon would be yum. If you want a sweet pastry, just add 2-4 tablespoons of icing sugar to the recipe right at the beginning.

My personal favourite, and that of our family too...is an Old Fashioned Chicken Pie. I got the recipe back in 1997 from someone's aol homepage. It's now gone, so I imagine it would be safe to post! The kids don't say boo about the red capsicum and I didn't have mushrooms the other night so I just left them out....no problems at all.

Old Fashioned Chicken Pie

1/2 kg chicken breast fillets*
1 cup chicken stock
3 medium carrots, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
250g mushrooms, sliced
1 red capsicum, deseeded & diced finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 Pie Crust

  1. Put chicken breasts in a medium frypan with 1/2 cup chicken stock. Cover and ring to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and tear into pieces. Reserve stock liquid.
  2. Cook diced carrots in a saucepan for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain & set aside.
  3. In a frypan, melt the butter and add onions, mushrooms, red capsicum, thyme, salt & pepper. Saute over medium heat until tender; add minced garlic and cooked carrots.
  4. Stir in flour and cook for one minute. Stir in chicken, stock and milk. Bring to the boil & cook until thickened.
  5. Pour pie mixture into prepared pie crust. Top with pastry, trim and crimp edges. Cut a vent in the top of the crust and bake in a preheated oven (200C/425F) for 15 minutes and then turn down to 180C/350F and cook for another 20 minutes or so, until golden.
* You could use thigh fillets or leftover roast chicken. I tend to use leftovers and it's nowhere near 1/2 a kilo, but it doesn't matter that much.

The other night, I just mixed about 3 teaspoons of cornflour into some water and used that to thicken about 1 1/2 - 2 cups worth of liquid (from the carrots and some milk) and I added some chicken stock powder to make up for the lack of chicken stock liquid.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Pastry for Fi

I was chatting with my friend Fi a few weeks back and as women do, we were talking about cooking. Specifically about good pastry recipes. Now that I have a food processor, the world of pastry dough is my oyster! There is nothing you can't do when you have a food processor, I discovered.

So Fi, here is a great recipe for shortcrust pastry. I made this last night for a chicken pie, and have used it for little tarts and it has worked well for both. It comes out light and a perfect balance of soft but just the right amount of crispy.

Pastry

1 2/3 cups plain flour
125g butter
2 eggs
  1. Place the flour & butter into the food process and blend until there are no lumps.
  2. Add the two eggs and blend until it comes together. If it doesn't, you may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of water....just until it comes together into a ball.
  3. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
If you don't have a food processor, rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Then add the eggs and mix well. You'll probably need to knead it until it becomes smooth. Then cover and refrigerate.

I rolled this out, put it into my pie dish with some overhanging the edge, because it always shrinks. Then I pricked the base and baked it in a hot oven for 10 minutes. I filled the shell & topped with another piece of pastry I'd rolled out (there's enough in this recipe for a top & bottom) and put it in the oven at about 200C for 30 minutes. Perfect.

If you want to make tarts, you do the same in smaller tins ~ like a muffin tin, for example and bake for about 10-15 minutes, until they are just starting to go golden. Then you can fill them with any kind of prepared filling you like. Hot or cold.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

"Embrace Me" by Lisa Samson


What is it about?

Valentine is a woman scarred from an injury and part of a human Marvels & Oddities show that tours through the year, except for winter. Whilst she is talented in beaded jewelery making and has a soft and caring heart, she seems to feel that the only way for her to earn a living is to exploit her deformity. Drew is a highly successful, very shallow Pastor of a mega church. However, his dysfunctional childhood, his mother's death and his need for his father's approval have sent him down a path of seeking self importance. Augustine is a tattooed monk who cares for those that come across his path.

What I thought:

Lisa Samson writes compellingly. This book is written in the first person with each of the main characters taking the next chapter. I struggled with this style for the first quarter to third of the book. However, once I got my mind around it all I was hooked and glad I persisted. I was dismayed at the idea of people allowing themselves to be exploited based on their oddities. The idea, to me, is abhorrent. And yet, Valentine feels that this is her only course of action for a very long time. Each of the characters, in their own way, is seeking unconditional love, healing and a way forward beyond all that they've been through. Lisa took each character through to a place in their lives where they could face their past and conquer the battles they each faced.

The book contained surprises I didn't see coming ~ probably because I was too engrossed in the tale being woven! Certainly from the middle of the book onwards I found this one hard to put down. I wanted to see how things were resolved for each person!

I found this a challenging read and probably not one I would go for if I wanted 'nice' or 'easy'. However, the themes of searching for unconditional love and healing of wounded hearts are worthwhile and Lisa explores these with raw reality. The resolutions for each character are realistic and not contrived or unbelievable, leaving the reader with a sense of hope that situations can improve.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Irish Stew

This recipe is very simple, but it is quite tasty. I use whatever lamb chops I can get that won't break the bank. I also don't use leeks. I almost always have red onions in the house so I just use those instead.

Irish Stew

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2kg lamb neck chops (I just use what we need for the 5 of us)
1 medium leek, chopped (or an onion)
3 large potatoes, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (optional)
1 litre lamb or chicken stock

  1. Heat half the oil in pan, add chops in batches, cook until lightly browned all over; remove from pan.
  2. Heat remaining oil in same pan, add leek, cook, stirring, until just tender.
  3. Add potatoes, carrots & thyme, then return chops to pan with stock, simmer, covered about 1 hour or until chops are tender.
Or, you can bake it in the oven on about 180C/350F for an hour.
Or...you can chuck it in the Crockpot for the day on low. I use less liquid in the CP though.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Monday's Marvellous Menu

The kids and I were back at school this morning. Hard to believe Term 3 is now in full swing. Mr Busy's classroom had a nice clear, clean blue wall...all ready for this terms General Studies work to go up. They're doing 'Colour and Light'. I got to decorate one part of it with this morning's acrostic poems.

Whilst having breakfast and feeling like it just couldn't be real...that holidays had ended, I did manage to finish this week's menu plan.

Monday: Meatloaf & vegies
Tuesday: Irish Stew (in the CP)
Wednesday: Old Fashioned Chicken Pie (using l/o chicken roast)
Thursday: Cranberry Pork Roast & vegies (also a CP recipe)
Friday: Vegie Rolls, potato wedges & something to go with it
Saturday: Mrs R's Vegie Soup
Sunday: Tuna & Rice Casserole

Now I just have to have a bit of a brag and show you what I made. We had some friends over for lunch last week and they love Asian food, but never cook it. I, on the other hand, cook a relatively large variety of Asian meals. So I did chicken & corn soup (very easy!) with Char Siu Bau ~ otherwise known as roast sweet pork steamed buns. Also easy, just a little time consuming. Here they are. What do you think?! Clever....even if I do say so myself. And they freeze and reheat so well. You just steam them from frozen for 10-15 minutes!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

It's Funny How Things Work

Picture from art.com

One of the things this particular woman cannot multi-task in, is singing whilst playing the piano. I just can't. I start to put my fingers in the wrong spot and lose my place in the music. It just ends up a very sorry mess. Unless of course what I'm playing is sooooo basic that I can't muck it up. There ya go...Rel & Fi, if you're ever inclined to watch, now you know my little idiosyncrasy!

So this morning I was playing away quite happily (in church), kinda humming because mucking up with 200 people hearing it, really isn't what you want to be doing. We start a new song and I get this tap on my back. "Trac, he's playing the wrong key". The guitarist who did the intro forgot to move his capo and I can't transpose to save myself, let alone the fact I had no idea what key he was playing in! You know what? I got to sing instead of play. A rare thing when it's my turn to play!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Mr Busy's Odessy

We have issues in our house. Big issues. More specifically the children have issues. They relate to the collection of clutter and general bedroom mess. We have cured one I think. With the reward of pierced ears dangled before her, Miss Mischief spent three months keeping her room "Mummy Clean". I figured three months was long enough for her to have learned a new habit. And it seems to have stuck. Two months on she's pretty good. Not perfect, but way better. Her room is no longer a danger to enter.

So yesterday I chucked a little mental and told Mr Busy to go and clean up his room. "Oh Mum, you have to help me I can't do it". What? Why ever not? Why is it MY responsibility to clean up YOUR mess? A mess I had nothing to do with creating. And why is it that everything gets pulled out and NOTHING gets put away even when that's what has been asked? Does anyone expect you to clean up THEIR bedrooms? I tell you, I had more questions for that boy that he had the fortitude to answer. He knows better. This mean mum is not one to be crossed when she's on a roll of this nature. It's better to just keep quiet than to try and justify what's being questioned. Especially when there is no justification in the first place! I happened to have my hands in dishwater at the time of instruction so I couldn't go and help him immediately anyway. I told him to go and tidy up the shelf he keeps his books on and then look at the wardrobe where his toys are supposed to be stored. Oh woe is him. What an impossible overwhelming idea....nevertheless, twenty minutes later that is exactly where I found him ~ tidying up that corner of his room!

Just so you know I'm not completely off my rocker, here is the before photo! This, my friends is the tip that Mr Busy seemed to think was OK to have as a bedroom.


Once I got in there with him, he worked beautifully. He was happy and motivated. Not at all the sooky chooky he was when I sent him in there in the first place. All I did was gather the rubbish and put it in a bag. Now there is method in that madness. It means that things that are truly rubbish get chucked. Otherwise we'd have a bedroom full of things that are meaningless and hold no real value to anyone, except the mess monsters. We worked together ~ I threw things in his direction and he put everything away. Right where it should go. He organised his boxes and containers so that they were easy to get to. He really is surprisingly good at this despite the look of the room that would suggest otherwise. Once we had finished we vacuumed. Then I spent 10 minutes unblocking a clog in the pipe of the vacuum....that's another story.

This..... Tah Dah....is the end result!

Now there is a new rule in this house. Mr Busy, you can get one thing out at a time...or two, if you block city you built requires cars. But before anything else comes out to be played with, those toys must be packed up first. Make little messes and clean up little messes and then they won't become big messes.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Frugal Friday Ponderings

Picture from art.com by Lisa Audit

It seems to be that things go along quite smoothly and then it all comes crashing down! I had to get my car serviced this week. It needs to be done on school holidays, as it's the only car I can take 3 kids in. Ouch. It always hurts. It's 8yo and has done 190,000km. Stuff needs fixing on it every single time. We own it though, outright, so it's worth keeping.

Yesterday the heater than I never take for granted has died....again. I'm about to call someone to come and have a look at it. The guy who came out last time (who is on his way to Adelaide as I type...darn it!) said the control panel probably needs replacing. The guy before that said the same thing. It will hurt! A lot!

I am grateful that I have an emergency fund for these things. I'm going to have to sit down with dh with a black and white reason why we need to be frugal and carefully replace the funds with have and will withdraw. That and I desperately....desperately want to be able to afford to put evaporative cooling in this summer. Desperately. When it's 40C outside and 35C inside life is not so fun! I'm tired of running away from home because it's too hot!

The Green Research Update
~Deep Breath~ I had a look at solar power yesterday. The kind of system we would need costs around $16,000. Oh, we'd be eligible for a $8,000 rebate. But my golly me. Eight grand is a huge amount of money. Last night as I was trying to keep my nose warm as I drifted off to sleep I was thinking about where we could put slimline water tanks.

Water tanks are between $500 and $1400 depending on the size you want. A lot more affordable I think. Something else to add to the budget discussion! It would certainly be fantastic to have at the very least a tank that would service the summer vegie garden. We have a tap timer thingy for when we're on summer holidays so the garden gets watered. With a tank we wouldn't be restricted to the allocated days & time slots.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Going Green...kind of.

At the risk of starting a political debate (which is not my intention), this is a subject I've been pondering lately.

I saw a story on Sixty Minutes the other night about people building houses to be energy efficient, carbon neutral and generally 'green'. It really interested me, to the point that I've made a little list of things I want to research. Going green isn't cheap when your house is already set up otherwise! But the story was really inspiring. Orientate your house to catch cooling breezes. Use verandas and rooflines to allow in winter sun and keep out hot summer sun. Insulate well. Use solar power. It all sounds so wonderful!

Then yesterday the Australian Government released it's 'Green Paper' regarding Emissions Trading. I admit, I'm not the brightest political mind. In fact, my politics mind is pretty basic and I tend to see things in a detached kind of way I think....dh keeps telling me "it's not that simple". I dunno....I reckon it is. So you can see, I may be way off base with what I'm about to say!

The Green Paper to me, seems all about charging the living daylights out of people for using carbon emitting energy. I can see where that comes into play. Really I can. But wouldn't it be more positive to give people incentives to change to more eco-friendly ways of doing things? In parenting terms, it's like disciplining for bad behaviour without giving any incentive or reward for good behaviour.

I was dumbfounded the other day when a friend told me the LPG Conversion Rebate was being axed very soon. Really? LPG is a cleaner fuel. Why would you not encourage people to do that, if we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? I don't get it. They want to charge even more for using petrol and won't encourage people to swap to gas.

We still get a rebate for installing water tanks. But then you get charged a water storage fee for the rest of the life of the tank. Hmmm....not such a great incentive.

I don't know. In my simple black-and-white mind these things just don't make a whole heap of sense. Wouldn't it be better to encourage people to use cleaner fuel in their cars, make solar power on houses more affordable and not charge us for storing our own water...something we're meant to be using less of anyway? Surely they'd be paying us not to use town water?

So....I'm going to start researching affordable ways to be greener. I live at the top of a hill with no big trees over my house....I wonder how solar power really works. And will Tru Energy pay me for putting power back into the grid?!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Cats in the Cradle...er...Cage


This was the scene in my backyard yesterday. Beyond My Picket Fence yesterday morning I had five energetic children playing in the sunshine (yay!!!). They were having so much fun that this black cat decided to come and join them. We tried to run it off, to no avail. I tried to have the kids ignore it...to no avail. Somewhere along the line the kids found this cage about a week ago, which I suspect is for catching possums. I had thought "great, when we have a possum problem we'll be set to go". In the end I had Mr Busy pick up the cat, who insisted on playing near him, and put it in the cage. Once it was caught I phoned our Shire and they had a Park Ranger come and collect it a couple of hours later.

That silly cat was all too happy to come and play at someone else's house uninvited, but for some reason really objected to being disciplined for its rudeness! What I am really hoping is that if it does belong to someone they will get a wrap over the knuckles from the Shire for having a cat roaming about outside. They're supposed to be in a cat run outside, or inside the house. Not roaming free.

Yes, you're right. I am not a great cat lover. I also have a daughter who is allergic to them. Poor cat hit the double whammy by coming to our place.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The French Connection

You'll never believe it ~ I actually remembered to take a photo of something I cooked! Normally we eat faster than I remember to do that. The mushroom sauce I put over the chicken last night is one that I've done over budget scotch fillet as well. It seems to go well with beef and chicken very nicely.


The sauce was just a couple of spring onions finely sliced. I only had 3 mushrooms. Four or five would have been better, so I cut them in half and then finely sliced them.

After I had pan fried the chicken in a mixture of butter and light olive oil, I threw in the spring onions and sauted for a minute, then added the mushrooms. Once they had softened a little I added a large dollop (I used a regular teaspoon, not a measuring spoon) of dijon mustard and cooked that for about 30 seconds. Then I added some white wine...just what I had in the fridge that is used for cooking. I think it's a Brut....but anything you have is just fine. It might've been about a scant 1/4 cup. That was good for deglazing the pan and getting all the stuff off the bottom ~ the extra flavour! Once that was boiling I added about 200ml of cream and then let that come to the boil. I let that go for a few minutes til it had reduced thickened up a bit ~ not long.

Whilst all that was going on, I had put the chicken into the oven to keep warm, on the bottom shelf. I used thigh fillets cos they were cheap and what I had. They were lovely and moist and coloured up beautifully.

The water predicament was resolved in a fairly timely manner yesterday. Apparently a rubbish truck hit a fire hydrant a couple of streets over. I was finally able to shower around 10am...and by then I really felt like I needed it LOL. We went from low pressure to no water to low pressure...enough to flush loos. At that point I filled up some buckets and got some dishes done. But then it was back by 11am with no problems.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Menu Planning Day

This morning has begun with the trying situation of having no water. The man at the water company said it might take as long as four hours to fix....once they find the problem *sigh*. Thankfully there was a little bit of water in the caravan tank, so I have about a litre and I've asked dh to bring a 5 litre container from work with water in it. I'm starting to think a water tank might just be a fabulous idea! Town water is obviously unreliable!

Lucky him, he got a shower....I didn't :(

On to equally important things like feeding the family this week! Today is Bastille Day, so we'll be eating something with a French feel for dinner.

Monday: Pan Fried Chicken with mushroom cream sauce, hassleback potatoes & green beans (plus some other vegies I think!)
Tuesday: Honey Soy Chicken with stir fried vegies & brown rice
Wednesday: Ricotta herb fritters
Thursday: Pasta with creamy bacon & mushroom sauce
Friday: Hamburgers
Saturday: Lasagna
Sunday: Homemade pizza: mushroom & pineapple, and potato, onion & garlic

Hopefully my water situation will have been resolved by lunch time. We have some friends coming for lunch. We'll be having Chinese Corn Soup & Steamed Pork Buns. On Wednesday Miss Sunshine has a friend from school coming and we'll have calzones for lunch that day. In between, it'll be sandwiches on homemade bread or steamed dim sims out of the freezer.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

You Learn Something New Everyday


Well, I did today, anyhow!

I'm knitting a jacket/cardigan jumper...it's my one knitted garment a year challenge thing. You know, I've got to learn how to do these things for myself and fix my mistakes before my Mum isn't around to help me figure it out. Anyway, I'm working on the collar and have had to increase in the middle of a row. Hmmmmm....how do you do that??!!!

Well, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have figured it out. See, you can't even tell! How cool is that?!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Winter Washing


One of my first posts on this blog was about washing. It was late summer or early spring and I was happily hanging out my washing outside and having it dry and ready to bring in at the end of the day. What a joy! The only thing I really really enjoy about summer is being able to do that LOL.

It's mid-winter here now and I'm still hanging out my washing. But now, it is pegged or folded over a clothes horse and placed over a heater vent. The picture above shows one of my three clothes horses. You can see the heater vent at the bottom. This window also faces west and so any afternoon sun comes streaming in, aiding in the drying process. It takes about a day and a half to dry. It seems winter laundry baskets are always full of washing that needs doing.

It is times like this I am sorely tempted to just throw what I can in the dryer! I hate using the dryer. The cost of electricity that it requires horrifies me. But I am starting to think I need to get on top of the washing that seems to be piling up LOL.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

I'm on a roll!

Sandra, if you're checking out my blog ~ look away now!

I joined the last swap at Down to Earth and chose to swap a needle case and pin cushion with someone within Australia. Last night I started to put the needle case together and finally bought the stuffing required for the pin cushion!

I apologise for the photo ~ it is a dreary, dark, rainy day today and there is NO light worthy of photo taking to be had at all! A perfect day for sending the kids off to Holiday Club and joining my normal sewing circle group for some stitching, don't you think?! :)

My bright moment for yesterday? I finally got my dishes all done and the kitchen cleaned up and looking like someone loves it again, when I get a phone call from dh. His Dad wanted to know if we'd like to go to their place for dinner and bring our bathers for a dip in the spa! They live in a retirement village so the pool & spa are indoors. The kids had a ball....I knitted, not wanting to get wet in the middle of winter! Then we had the best fried rice I've had in a long while and the most refreshing fruit salad ~ a mix of Asian fruits, cherries & apples. YUM. What a blessing ~ my kitchen is still lovely and clean LOL.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Today's Pin Prickling Excitement


Finally, yesterday, whilst I was on a bit of a journey round the 'burbs to do some shopping (the kids were at Holiday Club at our church for the morning), I found a quilt shop that sells the woolen quilt batting that I had been searching for. So my task this arvo....to baste the 3 layers together! I'll have to do it in spurts because it's a tad hard on the ol' knees and ankles!

I can't wait to sit under this cosy warm flannel quilt whilst doing the actual quilting. I have the cotton and the frame all set to go. Tomorrow while the kids are at Holiday Club I'll go to my regular sewing circle morning and pick up the needles I require....and there will be no stopping me!

A warm quilt of my own to snuggle under whilst watching telly on this bitter chilly nights. I won't be sharing this one!!!!!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Herbed Ricotta Fritters

Your wish is my command...well, not quite! However, this is one request I can fill without any trouble at all!

Herbed Ricotta Fritters

500g fresh ricotta
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup self rasing flour
2 cups mixed fresh herbs *
150g parmesan cheese, finely grated
vegetable oil for shallow frying

  1. Preheat oven oven to 160C/300F.
  2. Place ricotta and egg yolks in a bowl and mix well. Add flour, herbs and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
  3. Form mixture into tablespoon sized balls.
  4. Heat the oil. Fry the balls in batches until golden on both sides. Remove from pan and place on a wire rack over a baking tray and keep warm in the oven.
* I've used parsley and rosemary, because that's what I have in my garden. I use about 3 sprigs of rosemary, and about the same in quantity when chopped, of parsley.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Monday goes with Menu

Another week sails into being. Why is it the older you get, the quicker the year flies by you? Remember when you were a child and the year seemed to take forever. Birthday's never seemed to come around and summer holidays took forever to return. Since I had children of my own it seems that time just flies by faster than I can blink!

So what's on our plates this week? Last night's roast chicken became Chinese Corn Soup & dim sims...otherwise known as 'steamies' in our house. So I'm going with the roast tonight....I actually got it out already so it WILL happen today!

Monday: Roast chicken, roast potato, steamed vegies
Tuesday: Pasta & vegetable sauce
Wednesday: Oven Fried Chicken & vegies (KFC doesn't stand a chance!)
Thursday: Sweet & Sour Pork, brown rice
Friday: Ricotta Herb Fritters, vegies or something!
Saturday: Dinner out at a BYO meat BBQ
Sunday: Potato & Leek Soup, h/m dinner rolls

For those who are wondering, we're winning the lice war. Miss Mischief seems to be clear now. Miss Sunshine is slowing down with the baby hatching. I think in a few days she'll be almost clear too.

I can't wait for their hair cuts to happen....their hair has grown so long!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

How to Feed Your Family...Cheap

This was the headline on A Current Affair last night. I watched with interest, thinking "wow, $75. I wonder how they do it. I'm sure to learn something I didn't know".

I learned nothing new :( And what I learned is that this family use no meat and that their morning and afternoon teas both include cakes. Not so healthy and doubly disappointing. The $75 also, obviously didn't include the few cleaning items that I buy, or bandaids & panadol! I was pleased to see that ACA had a nutritionist or someone saying that having no meat might save money now but would result in health & medical bills later. For myself, I know this to be true. We ate 50% vegetarian a few years back because we just couldn't afford more meat, but I didn't know that I should've added more legumes to our diet. My iron levels suffered. So it was either buy meat, or buy iron pills...which then block you up.

Us meat eaters can still eat cheaper than most people think is possible. You just adjust the cuts of meat you use to suit your budget. I made Lamb Shank & Vegie soup last night using lamb neck rosettes. They were $4.99/kg and had heaps more flavour than the shanks, because of the neck bones. There was still enough meat to get a good serving each. Whenever I need to buy chicken fillets, I use chicken thigh cutlets. They still have the bone in and it's a pain to cut it out, but the savings are so worth it. The difference in price is about $8/kg!!!!

A friend of mine made us a beautiful lunch the other day, of vegetables & chickpeas in a tomato based sauce over cheesy polenta. I loved it so much I had to ask for the recipe the other day. My kids wouldn't eat it, but I can make that for a healthy lunch for myself. For those whose kids don't mind 'wretched evil beanies' (ie legumes) it would be perfect!

What I learned last night is that we're doing pretty well...for a meat eating family. I generally spend about $100-$130 each week. For some reason, the last month has been around $110. We have all enjoyed the meals we've eaten and they included a wide variety of styles. I've been under my budget :). If you're spending a lot more and want to save money....eat along with us. There's enough menu plans here now for you to go through and pick out what you like. Try a couple of vegetarian meals each week. Two or so each week will be good for your health and your budget ;)

Friday, 4 July 2008

Clean, Green & Frugal

I looked out my kitchen window the other morning and what did I see? Daffodil bulbs were poking up through the garden bed. We're only half way through winter, but there they were! Daffodils are something we all enjoy at our place ~ they remind us of Dh's mother, who passed away 9 years ago now. They were her favourite flower and we were very excited to discover the previous owners of this house had planted them right where we would see them every day from the kitchen & meals area of our home. Apparently spring it on its way already.


On the clean and frugal subject, I am trying something at the moment. No hair conditioner. I think I've reacted to the conditioner I bought last time ~ I'm all itchy only in the area where I put the conditioner. And no, it's not lice!!!! I was chatting with a friend yesterday and she mentioned she never uses conditioner. Now there was a light bulb moment for me. I must say, so far, I can't tell the difference, but my hair is only drying after being washed so time will tell. If I really can't tell one way or the other I will abandon the conditioner completely. I'm not abandoning the hair straightener though LOL.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Latest Quilt Block


Yes, it's that time of the month ~ the first Wednesday...when I learn a little more on quilting! The above block is what my half of the group worked on last night. My my how we struggled to get our heads around the little triangle pieces and attaching them to the background squares. And then to figure out how to put it all together. It ended up being simple really...but as with any new thing the first time is always the trickiest.

I'm so glad to do the first block in class before going home and trying to get it done without anyone to check with!

The ladies in my half of the class are a joy to spend time with and we spend a lot of time laughing over different things in our lives. We've only met three times and yet we've come to enjoy each other's company.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

One More on The List

I've just discovered another thing to be dealt with.

Lice.

UGH.

I thought I'd just better check...just in case... We have hair appointments next week and they won't cut the hair if the kids have lice. I don't want Miss Sunshine, particularly, to miss having her hair cut...she needs it. Just as well I checked. I'm surprised she wasn't itchy at all!

I've combed through the girls, checked Mr Busy and emailed the school. I guess we'll be combing twice a day for the next 10 days....and beyond!

How did I miss that?

I've just realised it's Wednesday and I didn't post yesterday? Now how did that happen? I think holidays have already mushed my brain to nothingness! We began the morning without electricity. It has been raining and we've had gale force winds, so of course the power went out! That's what happens when you have overhead lines and tall gum trees together. Later on in the morning I prepared some nibbles and we then spent most of the day with a friend and her kids and a couple of others. The kids had fun....we had a good chat. Then I shopped on the way home! Not the best timing, but I had to take advantage of being near Aldi, didn't I?!

I don't know about you, but when school holidays come I tend to get the urge to get my house back in order. To anyone walking in, they may not notice, but I do. So what's on the winter mid-year break to-do list beyond my picket fence?

Floors ~ vacuum and mop throughout. When I say that, I mean get out the little attachment and get into the corners and do a proper clean, not just a quick whip around. Put the furniture up, shake out the mats, clean off the little pads on the bottoms of the chairs etc.

Clean up and clean out the laundry. How on earth are clothes meant to get clean when there is so much mud traipsed into that little corner of the house? I tossed all the old worn out shoes already, and now I need to get into those corners again. Perhaps in doing that, I should look into getting the upright deep freezer repaired?!

Bedrooms. Mine is nice and sparkly now. Two of the kids need to get in and get rid of the junk and clean up properly.

Clean the bathrooms. The kids are pretty good, but I want it Mummy-clean. Ya know, getting UNDER the claw foot bathtub...not just around it!

Prune the rose bushes. July is the time to do that down under. I might do that this arvo if it's still sunny and not so windy that I get blown away!

Weed the herb garden. There are some prickly little evil things in there right now that need to go.