Friday, 31 July 2009

Friday's Split Personality Post

The fun bit...
I have some very enjoyable things to do today. I'm going to start with 'morning cuppa' with some school friends. Other mum's who love this little piece of sanity as much as I do. We laugh (and sometimes cry!) together each week and solve the world's problems together. Well, our own little households, anyway.

After lunch, I'm toddling over to a nearby town to visit a church for whom I am facilitating a parenting course, beginning next week. I've not been to their offices, or the church actually, so I need to orient myself to the facilities they have. I'll have to take the laptop and DVD with me too, to make sure the computer things all talk to each other.

Tonight, the rest of the family will be feasting on the leftovers from Tuesday's night's dinner while I go to a 'Quilt til you Wilt' evening at the local quilt shop. I'm really looking forward to that. My sewing morning is the one thing I miss quite a bit at times. Sometime today I'll pick up the new Tail Feather's pattern and have all the pieces prepared to start stitching. I can't wait to get it!

The work bit...

I want to thank each of you who have posted with your encouraging words over the last couple of days. You're all beautiful friends.

There were quite a few comments wondering how I manage to work as well as keep up with home and family. For me, it has been made much easier than most Mum's would have the opportunity to experience and I wanted to share with you the things that make that true for me.
  • I work within a Christian community that our entire family has a vested interest in. It is a place that feels a lot like family to us in many ways and the community is filled with people who love the school as much as we do and work to keep it the beautiful community that it is.
  • My children and I spend our entire day in the same place. Indeed, I am paid to spend 5 lessons a week in the classroom my son is also in. If my kids really need me in the middle of the day, even if just for a hug, I'm right there. Not too many Mum's can claim that privilege in their work lives.
  • Our school has a very family friendly work policy. Over the holidays, when I need to work during Work Break, the kids are welcome to be in the school. One third of our staff are current parents, and there are a number who have had their children there in the past so it is beneficial to a lot of us for this to be the case. Even our Principal would be challenged with this if he was not willing for 'staff kids' to be around! Finding child care is not something I need to worry about.
  • We are usually home by 4pm. We're able to keep our regular after-school routine with some down time, homework time and time to cook dinner etc as normal.
I know I'm very fortunate and I think under 'regular' circumstances I'd probably fall apart in trying to manage the balance between work and home. In fact, I probably wouldn't attempt to work if things were not as they are now. God has been very gracious to me.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Uphill Plod

I tried about 5 times to write a post about my week. It just comes out all whiney and sooky. Suffice it to say I've been trudging through some challenges to do with the logistics of my day(s) at school and I'm feeling a little tender about those specific things.

The flipside of it all is that I work with people who are incredibly caring and supportive. Mrs B, who I work most closely with, is an angel and a blessing in the midst of the challenges I'm seeking to overcome. Her desire to ensure my sanity and ability to cope are like rays of sunshine in what might otherwise threaten to be days of stormy clouds.

Of course, the rest of the staff are encouraging and supportive too. I'm learning that when this squeeky wheel needs some oil, those who need to hear it are all more than willing to figure out where the oil needs to go. talk to my children about their before-school expectations!!!!

Confessions of a Reluctant Crock-Potter

You're all going to think I'm a nutter, but I have a confession to make. A confession prompted by a comment I received yesterday along the lines of 'don't you just love your crock pot'.

The simple answer is Yes.

The more complicated response is: I I have finally hit on some recipes that I really love when done in the crockpot. Tasty, flavourful and satisfying meals that only need rice or mashed potatoes to go with them. To be honest, for the first 6 or 7 years of our marriage I shoved my big ol' pot into the back of the cupboard, thinking that if a crockpot meal was meat and a tin of undiluted tomato soup then I could well do without it, no matter how tender the meat. I even thought it a bit of a dinosaur and wondered why anyone would think a young chick like me would want such a thing for a wedding present.

It turns out that long ago fore-thinking wedding guest was right on the money. As I've aged and wisened up a little I've discovered there is far more to crockpotting than I thought. Indeed, with the availability of the internet in my own home I've discovered quite a vast world of wonderful recipes that would otherwise have passed me by. Now that I've figured out crockpot meals can be quite yummy after all, I am more inclined to get mine out of its spot in the front of the cupboard. Yep. It got moved up in my kitchen world to the front pozzie.

Now that I've also joined those in the world with the title of 'working mum' I'm a lot more inclined to get up 15 minutes earlier to get dinner into my now-precious pot so I can come home and put my feet up for a little bit longer.

My lunch today was leftovers of yesterday's recipe, which I'd made on Saturday. I cooked and mashed a potato this morning to go with it. there's a good winter lunch!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Lamb with Rosemary and Vegetables

I mentioned this in my post yesterday. Despite the fact that lamb has gotten reasonably expensive, I always seem to manage to find forequarter or chump chops at reasonable prices. Not every single time, but usually one of them will be under or around $10/kg. We're good Aussie folk and we love our lamb and little gathering of guinea pigs decided that this recipe is a keeper.

Lamb with Rosemary and Vegetables

lamb leg chops (enough for your family)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium leek, choppsed
4 baby onions, halved (I omitted this)
2 medium parsnips, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  1. Trip fat from chops. heat oil in pan, add chops, cook until well browned. Add leek, onions, garlic, parsnips and sweet potato and cook until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two before adding the red wine and beef stock.
  3. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in zucchini and rosemary, simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until chops are tender.
Obviously, if you have more than 4-5 people to feed, you can increase the quantities without the need for being overly precise. You could also add other root vegetables that your family love to eat. I did steps 1 and 2, then threw everything into the crockpot and added the zucchini and rosemary right then, because I wasn't going to be home in time to do it later. The zucchini was a tad mushy, but it was still really tasty. I also dumped in an entire 2.5 cup carton of beef stock. It made lots and lots of yummy sauce, which we love.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Monday's Menu Plan

I feel completely zonked. A busy weekend and a full-on day at school makes for one very tired me. At this rate I'll be lucky to see the full two hours of 'Sea Patrol' tonight!

Tomorrow night dinner is being made for me by the mother of my little Prep student. I feel so loved and appreciated! And I will feel that in spades tomorrow night when I don't need to cook o:) So, my menu plan has changed a little bit for this week, since I planned it. Well, that seems to be quite normal, actually. I always highlight the changes I make and my plan always looks quite colourful at the end of the month!

This week (at the moment!) is looking like this:

Monday: Pork chops with apple & celery, vegies, potato
Tuesday: Whatever is handed to me tomorrow after school :)
Wednesday: Lamb with Mushrooms and Potatoes, beans, carrots (CP meal)
Thursday: Meat pie, vegies, potato (pie is the freezer)
Friday: Herbed ricotta fritters, vegies, potato
Saturday: Pasta and vegie sauce
Sunday: Mrs R's vegie soup, sausage rolls

Actually, I might yet swap Friday and Saturday, as I'll be out for dinner Friday night and I would rather eat the ricotta meal than the pasta one.

I tried a new recipe in the crockpot on Saturday. There is nothing more wonderful than walking in the door at 6pm and having dinner just nicely cooking away with only mashed potatoes to be made! It was a lamb and vegie casserole with red wine and beef stock in it. Ooohhhh boy was it good. I'll be sharing the recipe tomorrow. It can be made on the stove top or in the oven if you don't have some version of a slow cooker so it's very versatile and absolutely perfect served with the mashed spuds. Dad really missed a winner when he opted to stay at my brother's for dinner that night.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

See You At the Fair

Today I enjoyed one of my favourite events in the year. The Craft and Quilt Fair. It is pure Heaven to those who enjoy crafts and more fabric based projects. Although there is a lot of scrapbooking and other paper craft types of things there now too.

Mum, her sister and I met in there. I drove in, the other two trained their way from their corners of life. Dh educated me in the best route to take in terms of simplicity. I made it all the way in and took a different route to the freeway on the way home and we made it with absolutely no hicoughs....YES! I didn't even use the Navigator! I had some time to do my own thing (aka, skipping the stuff you're not interested in!). I also saw one of Mr Busy's teachers and one of the Library Tech's from our school. They were having a ball. We chatted briefly and the continued on our way. I can't wait to hear their favourite things when we get back to school on Monday.

One of my favourite things to just look at was by the Australian Extile Arts & Surface Design Association. The 'Bugs and Botannica' piece was a mass of vines with flowers and leaves ~ all made from felt and other beautiful textured fabrics and materials, and then four different artists had collaborated to create the 'bugs'. It was a stunning piece and, I thought, a marvellous idea of when the Prep-2's to 'Mini Beasts' for General Studies. I'm sure we could do a early childhood/lower primary version!
I bought a DIY kit for a charm bracelet with a little watch on it. The watch works! I also bought a kit to make a bag. It would've been perfect for today, as I had my lunch stuffed into my year.....!

The best conversation I had with an exhibitor was a lady who was hand-quilting, using the stab method that I use. I think I need to invest in the stand that the quilting hoop attaches to so that I can quilt more efficiently. I really loved to hear that she just uses plain old masking tape and coloured 'Contact' to guide her stitching designs...such simple, inexpensive things!

Friday, 24 July 2009

'June Bug' by Chris Fabry

Just when I was questioning the sanity of blogging, Rel has posted my review for 'June Bug' and in the process has made my blogging life a little bit simpler today! I got to the end of my rope at about 2pm yesterday and as you can imagine the day still had a lot left in it! Hence, a blog post was pushed aside in the interest of keeping my brain together.

However, my review for this fantastic book is posted here at Relz Reviewz. This is a can't-put-it-down book that will require handfuls of tissues. It is definitely my privilege to be the reviewer of this book!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


You know that deep-seated internal intuition that tells you tomorrow will be pretty ordinary. Things like having your children out too late on a school night.

Miss Sunshine has attempted to snooze on the couch right at dinner time ~ she was pretty grouchy at the idea of having to get up and eat. Working hard creating a nature trail and herb garden at school this week hasn't helped her any! None of the kids were keen to get up this morning.

However....despite all that, it was such a joy to watch Mr Busy and his cousin enjoy one another's company last night. They are just over a year apart, with the cousin being older...but you'd never know it for all the fun they had, having sword fights with chopsticks and using cloth napkins as a superhero cape for a certain Uncle. It's just a little bit funny to listen to a family member talking, who has quite the American accent on him!!! That never ceases to amuse me.

It's 7.30pm....We've done dinner, watched 'The Cook and the Chef' and I've finished a book to be reviewed. I'm going to work on getting the two reviews I need to get done, finished tonight. And I need to start my book club book for Friday night. So while the dishes pile up I read like a mad thing. Roll on Friday LOL.

And roll on the delivery of the necessary dishwasher part!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A Little Excitement

I tell a lie. It's not a little's a lot of excitement! I'm excited for two very good reasons. Firstly we're going to spend some time with one of Dh's brothers, and their oldest son. When you have family members living overseas, time together is rare and precious, and something we all savour deeply.

Secondly and far less profound, I am desperately excited about not having to cook dinner. Sad, but true! We'll be dining at a Chinese restaurant.....45 minutes away. There's a whole other post! One which is better not aired, methinks. I had a little meltdown the other morning on a brain-fog day and Dh has managed to wangle an earlier start time than originally organised.

Right now I'm focusing on a great meal and time with family and not the challenges associated with the joy.

* * * * * * * * * *

Speaking of challenges, the Year 3's are learning 'joining writing' this term. My student spent the morning yesterday saying "This is so hard". To which I responded "Yes, you're right. It absolutely is hard, but in no time at all you're going to be great at this because it just takes a lot of practice". Today he is already correcting little techniques that he struggled with yesterday.

We have some lifetime family friends who have started their oldest two children at our school this term. Beginning at a new school is always daunting but they both looked like they were revelling in the joys of the day. They appeared to be thoroughly engrossed in playing with new friends and 'sucking the life out of every moment', as Miss Sunshine's Year 5/6 teacher would put it.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Mad Monday - Menus and More

First Day. Term 3 begins in just a couple of hours. Lunch boxes are waiting to be filled, children are snatching their last moments of slumber and my mind is swimming with all the little details of the day on either side of the classroom, aka before and after school.

I've a Powerpoint presentation to email to my lecturer. I've books to be finished by Friday and a review to write ASAP (I'm not leaving it a month this time!). We've a family dinner to attend tomorrow night, with Dh's brother and son who flew into Melbourne over the weekend. Dh has a big week at work ahead of him, as do I.

In the back of my mind? Now that I'm there 4 mornings a week I'm on the roster for staff devotions. ARRHHHH!!! What does a far less education Mum have to share with a bunch of university degreed people? I'll let you know when I figure it out LOL. I have also got a Starting Points program to prepare for. This term is going to be a wild ride in many ways. The weeks ahead are filled with different events and happenings.

This weekend, I did manage to finish out the month on my menu plan and even began next month. I keep trying to figure out what will be fast, healthy, unfussy and yet absolutely delicious and not boring!

Here's what I've come up with this week:

Monday: Singapore Noodles
Tuesday: Out for dinner
Wednesday: Polenta Parmesan Chicken, vegies
Thursday: Lasagna (from the freezer), garlic bread, salad
Friday: Ricotta Gnocchi (a hold over from last week)
Saturday: Lamb with rosemary & vegies (crockpot)
Sunday: Ants climbing trees or soup

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Tail Feathers #1

Tail Feathers 1

I finished my first 'Tail Feather's' block about a week and a half ago and finally managed to get around to taking a photo! As you can see, I was in such a rush, I've chopped off some of the left side. *sigh* More speed, less haste is required I think.

In any case, creating this block was a divine little piece of Heaven for me, and I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the pattern for block two. I'm sure I could force myself to stay awake to do some stitching, rather than falling asleep in front of the TV at 8pm.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Still in the Land of the Living

Bet you though I'd disappeared! Well, I haven't. I've just been back at work. Normally I might have been inclined to get blog posts done in the morning, but I've been trying to get the last of my course work done for the current group of subjects so I could get it sent off. Then I've been dashing out the door to get to school in time!


It has been a really productive couple of days though ~ I love working with our Prep teacher. She is so inclusive and always willing to share her insights or understanding of why we do what we do. No question of mine is too silly!

The Prep classroom is all set to go, with all the 'Water, Water Everywhere' paraphernalia having been replaced by 'Transport' themed door signs and literacy group titles. We now have bus drivers, pilots, sailors and motorbike riders instead of seahorses, star fish, sharks and mermaids. Pencils and textas have been sorted and sharpened if necessary. New posters have been put up and the classroom is just waiting for little people to come and do so serious (but fun) learning!

Now for two days to get the washing up do date and everyone all prepared to start back next week. The secondary students will be participated in 'Creative Arts Week' and from what I understand they'll be working on a track through the school's bush area with plans for an outdoor classroom, rest benches along the track and significant plants and trees being named. It'll be a wet muddy week, I suspect. Miss Sunshine will need to take heavy duty boots....and salt in case of leeches!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

On A Someday by Roxanne Henke

Finally, about a month after I finished reading, I've managed to put together a review for 'On a Someday' which Rel has posted with incredible speed. Check out my review here.


I can't believe it's Wednesday already! It seems this week is conspiring against my holiday mode thinking with all its hustle and bustle. And yet I appear to be in a substantial amount of denial about it all. I am completely taken by surprised every time I realise that we've got so many things going!

Tonight Miss Sunshine is off to the 13yo birthday party of a lovely girl in her class. Disco theme. We got a $5 shimmery bargain dress from the Op Shop....and it needs taking in. That will happen after work in the hour before I need to take her to the party. It's pinned and ready to go.

Last night we did our little dinner drop off trip and tomorrow night the girls are back at Girls Brigade. Now I'm sure that just shouldn't be starting back yet! OK, yes, I know it should but in my mind I'm just not ready!

I'd better get to and make my lunch. If I have a moment I think I'll start on that dress before we leave!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Monday's Menus

Today begins my 'in between' week. I'll return to work in tow. The kids don't go back to school until next week so they'll be spending their week playing at 'work'. I'll get them to pick some DVD's and things to take to school and then I think they have plans to 'help' Dad with his office work. Of course, they fully expect that they'll get paid!

I'm trialing the 'Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day' recipe at the moment. We made pizza dough the other night and I've a loaf prooving right now. I also have another lump of dough in the fridge. Once I've baked this loaf I'll decide if the other lump is scroll worthy. If not I'll make some bread dough in the machine as usual, and make scrolls for the kid's lunches for the next couple of days.

Finally, this week's menu has come together:

Monday: Roast chicken & vegies (a hold over from last night)
Tuesday: Sweet & Sour Pork, rice
Wednesday: Lamb rissoles, vegies
Thursday: Soup, sausage rolls
Friday: Ricotta gnocchi with tomato pesto
Saturday: Chicken & mushroom pie, vegies
Sunday: Moussaka

I'm doubling my sweet & sour pork and will deliver half with some rice to friends who arrive home from a hectic couple of days of travel and attending funeral & graveside services.

* * * * * * * * * * *

In the meantime I await the arrival of the Little Fix-It Man who is coming to look at my dishwasher. Dh pressed the button and it worked yesterday. Grrrrrr. I'm still having the man come and see why it didn't work for two days prior!

Sunday, 12 July 2009


I've had a number of times in the last couple of months where I've wrestled a little bit with God. The older I get the more inclined I am to ask His opinion, rather than figure everything out on my own...a good thing. Until you don't like the answer! However, I've also learned that being where God wants you, in life, is the best place to be even when the going is tough. I've found that when the going does get tough it is the greatest comfort knowing that God is with me every step of the way and that the tough stuff must have a greater purpose.

So it is, that the tough stuff in one particular instance must have greater purpose for me. God his holding me in a ministry that I'm struggling with a little bit. Interestingly I keep getting an absolute, no questions asked NO to my pleading for an out...even a temporary one! I was talking with a good friend the other day and I commented to her that it'd be nice to kind of 'know' what's behind it all. I don't want to know all the details....just a topic will do! Sticky nose, aren't I?! But I've often thought that an inkling or a time frame would make things a little easier to bear. I suppose then, that my focus would not be so much on trusting God completely, would it?

In complete juxtaposition I have another ministry opportunity where God has been prodding me to move. When God starts stirring in your soul and whispering to your heart and then presents you with the opportunity for that very thing, you just KNOW this is a 'meant to be' kind of thing.

As Dh and I have chatted over these things and I've shared my frustrations, thoughts, fears and a whole range of other emotions, his logical and initial responses have been the opposite in many cases, to God's direction ~ when I've finally sought it. I know Dh is looking at things and seeing how each situation effects me. He sees how busy I am and is concerned for my wellbeing.

I've been finding this quite an interesting discovery ~ that man's logic and rational thoughts, and very reasonable responses are not the ways of God. Man's rationality and logic seems to be in opposition to God...even when we are followers and lovers of Alighty God. I am being impressed upon with the knowledge that it is imperative that I must seek God's guidance rather than lean on my own understanding. For even as one who has an intimate relationship with her Creator, I am not naturally in step with His ways.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Waste Not, Want Not - Freebie Chicken Stock

I made a discovery just recently. One I was very excited about, because simple things give me the most excitement. Sometimes it's a bit silly, but oh well. What can I say? I'm very easy to please!

My discovery was about making homemade chicken stock. Making my own stock was always something that seemed like a long and involved process if you read recipe books written by purists who have deep beliefs about these things. Since I'm a simple, humble housewife and hold no such lofty or grand ideals about making stock I have the freedom to bumble about until I find something that works. So in my humble bumblings I have found that if you use the carcass of a roasted, completely picked over chook, the stock is clear and has none of that scum that appears with raw carcasses. All of a sudden something destined for the bin becomes precious, and stock-making is oh so simple!

Along with my roasted, otherwise useless carcass, I add the peelings from carrots and the ends from my onions, and the tops off the celery. Again, all things that would've gone into the bin, if not for making stock. If I don't have one or some of those ingredients then I simply don't put it in. Sometimes, I only have the carcass. No biggie. I put a lot of water in with that stuff and I simmer it through the evening. Before I head to bed I strain out the 'stuff' and voila, you have stock ready for the fridge.

If you don't have time the night you've roasted your chook, just throw it in the freezer (in a freezer bag or something similar) and do it one night when you do have time.

I absolutely love homemade stock in my soups and sauces. Part of that affection is because there are no additives or preservatives in what I do at home. The other part, of course, is that real stock tastes so much nicer than stock powder or cubes!

This is also where menu planning comes in very useful. If I am planning to have soup one night, I will usually plan a roast chicken dinner sometime in the days beforehand. Since we're having roast chook this weekend......I wonder what soup we'll eat this coming week. Hmmmmm.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Taking Stock

I feel a little like I've frittered away these holidays quite lazily, languishing with stitching and favourite DVD's instead of tackling my to-do list. Well, the list in my head that is! The kids have yet another week off, but staff are all back to work for 'Work Break'. So I'm back to it too. The kids will come to school with me for two of the days when the teachers are at a PD day. Then they'll spend two days with their Daddy driving him nuts...umm, I mean to say...helping him at work.

So what have I achieved over the last fortnight amongst my otherwise unproductive moments?
  • Cleaned out the pantry
  • Cleaned out Miss Mischief's wardrobe & gave the clothes away
  • Completed my first Tail Featers Block of the Month
  • Got six meals prepared and stashed away in the freezer
  • Organised a Little Fix-It Man for the dishwasher
  • Got an assessment task completed for school and should have this group of subjects completed next week
  • Emailed off reviews to Rel for two books...and began reading another ;o)
  • Most importantly, I've spent time with some very precious friends this week.
See, when I actually sit down and put pen to paper ~ or in my case, fingers to the keyboard ~ I can see that I've actually been quite productive! If I can get the rest of that one last assessment task completed by the time I go back to work on Tuesday I will be ecstatic.

I'm also beginning to liase with a 'local' church to take on the Facilitator role for their Starting Points program throughout August. The facilitator had organised the program and has found she needs to attend to some health issues so someone needs to step in.

I love Little Jenny Wren's last post about getting things done. Routines really do get things done so much more smoothly than my version of doing things only when it irks me!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Keeping it Simple

There's a lot of talk these days about 'Simple Living'. It seems to refer to doing things in a less modern way, finding our way back to the way our grandparents might have done things. Now, I'm an old fashioned girl at heart. I drink in my DVD's of 'Little House on the Prairie' any chance I get and find myself wondering if I wasn't born in the wrong era of history. Oh to wear pretty shirts and long skirts. I even love their boots. I love the very simplicity of life portrayed in that era. I love that they worked hard and truly knew the value of what they earned.

And then I remember what my great-grandmother used to say. "There was nothing much good about the 'good old days' ~ they were jolly hard work". Whilst I'm sure there was plenty that was good, I think she was referring to the advent of washing machines, electric lights, gas stoves, telephones and other gadgets and technical advances that really did make a housewife's life so much easier.

I find myself pondering the 'Simple Life' question for myself. I live in a modern era with plenty of gadgetry available, both useful and not so useful. In an age when we seem to live faster and harder, what does simple look like, without sending ourselves back 200 years and becoming completely out of step with the world we live in? For me, this question is all the more pertinent given that I've begun working four days a week. Certainly life in our house is somewhat more hectic than it has ever been. Working when you have children is a vastly different prospect than working when it's just you and your husband to think about!

I think the simple life idea has to be a bit of an amalgamation of taking advantage of the useful things and remaining committed to doing things that are truly important to me. I'm sure my great-grandmother would heartily approve.
  • We eat a home-cooked meal together around the table almost every night. I am so committed to this part of family life that I've spent this week adding some prepared meat to the freezer to facilitate easier cooking on busy days.
  • We mostly bake our bread ~ there is always a day or two in a week when I don't, when I'm not home in the evening. I use a bread machine to do this.
  • We hang out washing, rather than use the dryer. We have a dryer, but I am loathe to use it unless we are desperate. Even in winter, washing gets hung on racks set over heater vents.
  • I use the dishwasher and hand wash. There is always a sinkful of things that need a good scrub or won't fit in the machine. The girls take turns with the task each day. They dry and put away as I wash. We keep just a little of that huddle around the sink that resulted in precious moments together in my own childhood.
  • I've opted to keep the money in the family and I pay the girls to clean my floors. They love the opportunity to earn some money and I love not having to do the chore myself. In the process the girls are learning that work is a good thing and the value of what the earn.
  • I love my vegie pathetic as it is. Hot weather gets the better of it and rabbits beset the other half. One day I'd love raised beds with a watering system that is law-abiding and water-wise for this climate. In the meantime, I've bought a new parsley plant to add to my herb garden and will be satisfied with that for now.
  • I knit, albeit terribly slowly. I love to crochet and thoroughly enjoy making quilts. All those these activities appear at some level to be indulgent and fun. And they are. But at the end of the project, I have something useful. Beautiful quilts will be used, rather than hung on the wall (should I ever finish one!!!), knitting and crocheting gets worn and frivolous little stitcheries end up as decoration in our home, or as gifts for others.
I'm very blessed to have the kind of job that has me working school hours. It allows me the ability to continue with the simple things that are truly important to me.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Houston, We Have A Problem

My random musings this morning have centred around two things.

A very close and dear friend, whose father passed away on Monday night. I feel quite useless and words feel quite inept in trying to express the depth of my heart for her. So I shed a tear or two on her behalf (cos I'm a sook) and pray constantly that God will truly be her comfort and strength, particularly as they travel to attend the funeral.

Interspersed with those thoughts and on a completely different tangent...because life never stops despite us wishing it would for a day or two....I'm feeling very grateful I live in a country where we have Little Fix-It Men who happily take my money when they visit and repair my appliances. Since we moved into this house just shy of 4 years ago, we've had the washing machine, fridge, heater and oven seen to. And the deep freezer really should be seen to, but we've been able to do without it just fine. On Monday I will have someone come and have a look at my dishwasher.

All the indicator lights on the control panel gave up the ghost months ago. But it was still working fine and I just had to remember to put the rinse aid in without being reminded. But now the start button has decided it's had enough as well. You can't start the machine if that 'start' button won't work!!! Being a water-wise Melbournian the dishwasher, of course, was fully loaded and ready to do its work. Today I will have to do those dishes by hand...UGH.

So I will welcome the Little Fix-It Man who comes to visit me on Monday and welcome his experise readily....and then bleed a fair amount of money for the privilege!

I wonder if Mr Busy can 'help' and save me some money again, as he did when the Little Fix-It Man came to repair the fridge!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Child's Play Chocolate Cake

Rel left me a comment yesterday telling me how much her 11yo daughter is enjoying baking Coconut Bread and eagerly looking for further baking excitement and challenge. My own 11yo daughter also bakes this recipe at any moment she can...much to the joy of her father! My 13yo is inclined towards making chocolate cakes. Not the biscuit-eating kind of child, she will always opt for this simple but completely delicious recipe to thrill her own heart...and that of her father (notice a theme going here?!).

Simplicity Chocolate Cake

1 cup self raising flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 tablespoons butter (about 60g), melted
  1. Preheat oven to180C/350F.
  2. Grease and line a 20cm ring tin with baking paper.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat for three minutes, using either a hand held whisk or a hand mixer.
  4. Pour into prepared ring tin and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Variation: Omit the cocoa and replace with grated rind of one orange. Juice the orange and replace the milk with the juice ~ top up to 1/2 up with milk if necessary.

You could line a muffin tray with patty pans and make this recipe into muffins. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

I have also made this recipe with gluten free flour with very pleasing results, particularly with the orange variation. They also freeze and thaw very nicely for lunch boxes.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Menu Planning and Other Updates

This week my younger two children are at Holiday Club, run by our church. We compromise. They get to spend three mornings of the five there. I get to stay home all day on the other two. A reasonable agreement when we live 25 minutes from our church and I have to occupy my time down the hill for a few hours. Today I spent the morning with a beautiful special friend. Tomorrow I will shop and on Thursday I'm planning to spend the morning with another equally beautiful and special friend. I'm very blessed to have the kinds of friends who are happy for me to hang about for a whole morning! Miss Sunshine has also found a reasonable way to spend the time too. I organised to do a kid-swap one of my daughter's for one of a friend's son's.

In between all this socialising, I've managed to push aside the brain fog resulting from not enough sleep to put together a menu plan...

Monday: Forbidden City Chicken, vegies
Tuesday: Potato and Corn Chowder, garlic bread
Wednesday: Lamb Chops, cranberry wine sauce, vegies
Thursday: Baked Savoury Cheesecake, vegies
Friday: Homemade Pizza (a holdover from last night)
Saturday: Beef meatball stroganoff, pasta or mashed potato
Sunday: Roast Chicken, vegies

I will buy extra chicken and freeze a couple of meals in the Forbidden City Chicken sauce, ready for a can't-be-bothered night...or a night when the girls get to cook ;o). I'm planning to use the leftover chicken for my lunches for the following week, seeing as how I'm back at school. Hmmm...will have to come up with something for the kids two of the days while they're with me too.

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My mobile phone lasted an entire three days, instead of just one. Not as good as the five I was hoping to get out of it, but it is lasting a little longer now.

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I've just received my fabric parcel from Provincial Patch. They were just beautiful to deal with and can happily recommend them to all the Aussie's. Had I known where they were I would've had Dh stop in there last Friday ~ he was a way up there on business that day!!!! Stay tuned for a finished quilt block! I have made myself a deal though. I must do some school work before I sit down to more stitching. I really want to get this group of subjects mailed off this week and it won't happen if I keep stitching away instead. First thing's first!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Obsessed Stitcher & Her Mobile Phone


I feel like I need to apologise for the amount of Stitching I've been babbling about this past week! But take a look at that picture...isn't my obsession warranted? OK, maybe don't answer that. I think it's warranted. Tail Feathers has me desperate to get back to it and now that two of the three pieces are done I just sit and stare at them with a great deal of pleasure. I love them. Acutally, what really gets me is that scalloped edge around the tree. I could just look at that all day long LOL. I'm awaiting a parcel of fabric to do the applique on the 3rd piece and then create the full block.

But then there is this little pile..and the picture only shows part of it. But you get the idea. At the end of the couch there is this growing little pile of stuff, so that I don't have to get up too often once I've committed to a bit more time stitching! I think this is most evidenced by the mug (my favourite, from Retreat back in April) and the two phones! Dh was away Thursday night up in northern Victoria, so where I would normally ignore the mobile, it joined my pile too.

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In an attempt to be more interesting to the non-stitching world, I discovered a new trick to get more life out of my mobile phone battery. It had gone from lasting a week to lasting barely 2 days, so it has been constantly dying on me. Very frustrating. This began happening after I had been charging the phone and it had not fully charged before Dh unplugged it to charge his own phone. I've always been very careful to fully drain my battery and then fully recharge it to keep the longest battery life possible....even though they say the new types of batteries don't have a memory. I'm here to tell you, they're wrong.

When I was at my BIL's the other day, one of his employees suggested that I should drain the battery (easy done!), take it out and place it in a plastic bag (or wrap it in cling wrap, as I did) and put it in the freezer overnight. Apparently this erases the empty-full memory that it has and allows you to fully charge it again.

I did this Thursday night and charged it back up yesterday morning. I still have a full battery!!! I am in hope that it has indeed worked. I'll let you know.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Mid-Year Clean Up


I'm not so much a Spring Clean-er, but rather a Whenever-I-Have-The-Inspiration-Clean-er. I'd been looking at my pantry for months thinking "I must get to that". Finally, thanks to some inspiration from Meredith at Like Merchant Ships I found the inspiration and desire I needed to delve into this dark little corner of my kitchen. Meredith had posted about her pantry dilemma here and then posted over the next day or two to reveal her progress.

On Tuesday, Miss Mischief and I completely emptied out the pantry. Mr Busy, in his usual intelligent manner, asked if I was going to leave everything on the bench now. "Oh yes, it's far more convenient to have everything out at my fingertips" I replied sarcastically. And then I gave him 'the look' that says: that was a pretty silly thing to say buddy. He merely giggled. Must get to cutting his hair.....

I shooed him out and cleaned the shelves and floor. Then we started putting everything back in. Tidily. Taking time to consider why I put things where I do. Thinking that I don't want to throw everyone off-kilter, or forget what I'd done with something. But I do have a wheat-free spot on the shelf now. I got rid of o-o-o-o-l-d ingredients and some things that had been stored in there for no reason other than Dh didn't want to get rid of those items and I didn't like them so refused to use them any longer. There's nothing worse than ugliness in the kitchen and I'm too old to persevere with things I hate. I think I've gotten to the age where I pursue things I love.

Do you know, I now have space on the very top shelf (not pictured). All the light globes and batteries are in a container. All the candles are in a container. The potatoes are on a SHELF!!!!!! Usually they stay in their bag on the floor amongst the rubble that congregates there.

Then because one cupboard is not enough of a clean-up we attacked Miss Mischief's wardrobe. On the promise that once it was done we would visit Savers (a huge 2nd hand shop) to replenish anything we would now see was lacking, she began. To my delight and slight horror, Miss Mischief turfed a huge garbage bag FULL of clothes. She only had half her clothes left. All things that fit and she likes. You know what? We don't need to go to Savers. She has plenty of clothes ~ she just couldn't find them amongst the things she didn't wear anymore.

The clothes have gone to a good home. My children joyfully thought we should be rid of the bag immediately and a trip to their Uncle and Aunt's place is always met with joy and enthusiasm. An employee of my BIL's has two girls and happily took the bag home with her yesterday.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Savvy Spending and Fabulous Finds

Over the school holidays I have more time to spend popping on and off the computer for moments here and 1/2 hour there. It's amazing where your clicking can take you, and boy have I found some great things over the last week.

I've mentioned Altered Cutlery just in this last week. Lis is not a prolific poster, but she's a South Australian lass with some great Slow Cooker recipes. I'm about to get into some menu planning so I'm going to be sitting here with her blog in front of me. My new copy of 'Nigella Express' will be dog-eared by the time I'm done too.

Just yesterday I got online out of desperation, looking for the Moda 'Patissiere' range of fabrics. Specifically jelly rolls, honey buns and charm packs so I can make my Tail Feathers quilt. I was feeling a little sad at the idea of not being able to use 'Patissiere' so I went looking for Aussie suppliers. Well...what a site I found. Provincial Patch has a great selection of patchwork and quilting fabric and sells online at a fraction of the price of retail stores or other websites. They use Paypal, or if you're an Aussie, you can send through an email order and pay direct into their bank account. I am excitedly awaiting my shipment to arrive in the next couple of working days. Kerri tells me they had set aside some 'Patissiere' range products just for Natatlie's quilt.

If you're interested in dressing your specific figure shape, the Inside Out Style blog will be a great source of information. I've spent far too long reading back over past posts. What intrigued me most is that Imogen's definition of an hourglass figure comes with two different definitions, actually. There is the X and the 8....depending on whether you carry your weight lower on your thighs, or up on your hips. Imogen is also a fellow Melbournian and willingly answers reader questions on her blog.

When you're reading through an image consultant's blog and she keeps reiterating that one should invest in really good, well-fitted undergarments, it begs the question. What is the right undergarment for me? women everywhere know, being fitted is not always all it's cracked up to be. Especially when you go to a professional fitter and even they get it wrong. Yep...I could get onto a rant about this one! A girl could then be forgiven for going on a little virtual shopping tour without the trauma of going to a big shopping centre and having to say "No, I'm just browsing thank you" a million times over. If you're a fan of any of the brands Triumph own (eg. Triumph, Bendon, Lovable, Elle MacPherson etc) then you'll find some significant savings at Indulge Fashion. I'm talking savings of 30%. So if you're an Aussie, again, this might be worth a peek at. I've not used this site...but the savings made me think I would!

What's your favourite online find...for cheap shopping or freebie information and stuff?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

One Stitch at a Time

Miss Mischief is part way through a stitchery and is doing a magnificent job. I forced....errrr....encouraged her to use her own money. She doesn't like to spend paper money, believing that to be a gift in itself. But I promised her this is what money is for ~ spending it on something you absolutely adore. So she bought some threads and a frame and whilst she was doing her choosing I traced the design onto some calico with the lightbox at the shop. She's in little-girl heaven.

Meanwhile, I've finished my stitching from Saturday's Sewing Day. It's very cute. I daresay I shall sew on the borders and frame this, rather than making it into yet another pin-cushion. A girl can only do with so many and I have one that I love and works well already.

Basket of Flowers

I also remembered to ask about Pattern 1 of a 10 part block of the month that I've not-so-patiently been waiting on! Now that the rain has cleared I'm going to nick back and pick up the threads. For all my one and a half boxes of embroidery threads I don't have any of the ones I need! I have, however, done the tracing and ironed on the stabliser fabric. I can't wait to get started. On a day like today perhaps another 'Little House on the Prairie' episode is in order?!


I love Natalie Lymer's designs. A touch of whimsy with a splash of variegated thread here and there seems to catch my attention every time. Why try to resist?