Monday, 23 October 2017

Monday Catch Up and Menus

What a whirlwind of a week, with late nights a plenty and long days to boot.  Our School's parent association met on Thursday night for dinner and our half-yearly meeting.  The next night my book club met.  This is a six-weekly event for me, and one that I cherish so deeply.  After most of the other ladies have left for the evening, the final four that are left are women whom I have known for over two decades.  These are the women who have known me through thick and thin.  We only get to see each other at book club now, for the most part, so our catching up is a high priority for all of us.  Then, on Saturday, I did a Bread Basics workshop with a local artisan baker.  I discovered that bread baking is both simpler and more complex than I ever thought it could be!  It is highly scientific and mathematical, and yet the process is really more about the resting than the kneading.  At the end of it all I came home with a hand-mixed loaf, baguettes, ciabattas and focaccia.  My freezer is full!

A slow cooker update:  My experiments were worthwhile.  I finally caved in and bought a timer switch and this was the pivotal thing.  Cooking meat for only the time specified and not cooking it all day long is life-changing.  You can't cook much at all for 11 or more hours!  But 6-8 is not uncommon.  So, I need to get digging and find all those recipes that looked good, but I never tried.  Incidentally, the chicken enchilada recipe I posted about last week was a huge hit.  It was declared the best enchiladas ever made in this house.  The booklet gave a recipe for homemade cream of chicken soup, which I tweaked to make with fresh milk instead of powdered.  Oh my goodness - it was perfect.  Not the scary stuff that comes in a can.  So that will go on our menu plan again in the not too distant future.

This week however, this is our plan:
Monday:  Jacket potatoes with leftover Texas Pulled Pork, from Saturday
Tuesday:  I'm home alone...maybe baked salmon with green beans & tomatoes, a la Jamie Oliver
Wednesday: Veggie Plate
Thursday:  Pasta with veggie sauce
Friday:  Fend for Yourself
Weekend:  I'm going to go slow cooker hunting and see what I can come up with here.  Or it might be homemade pizza, using fresh pizza bases from Aldi - they are delicious.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Monday and Menu planning

I didn't know this was a thing, until YouTube told me...October is "Crocktober"  A month where the challenge is to use your slow cooker for all your weekday dinners.  In my head I love this idea.  How amazing to come home to dinner having been cooked!  Indeed, in my house the expectation of dinner being cooked, and that expectation being dashed by the younger generation in the house, has led to tears on my part.  So I love the idea.

My problem is, I don't love my slow cooker.  I rarely end up with a meal that is cooked perfectly and tastes exactly how I expected.  I've had way overcooked meat, I've had one where the meat was tough little rocks and some of the veggies were cooked, others not enough.  So we've yet to win on anything other than a vegetable soup.  I'm not yet willing to concede defeat though, and to that end I have a plan:

  1. Buy a timer switch thingy so my slow cooker will turn on at the right time.  This means the food is in that pot for the required "6-8 hours" instead of however long I'm not home (which on a normal day is 10-11 hours).
  2. Use tried and true recipes, like from the Passionate Penny Pincher, who I think started the whole Crocktober idea. 
  3. If all else fails, replace my "vintage" slow cooker for a more modern one, so the recipes match the new and improved timings.
Something else I discovered this week: some newer slow cookers offer a "saute" function, so you can brown your meat in the pot, rather than having to do that in a separate pan.  Winner, in my opinion!  They also have a "keep warm" function, so that's helpful for days when dinner is done but your people are in and out all over the place at weird evening hours.

OK, plan in place, here's our menu for the week:

Monday:  Slow cooker chicken enchiladas (Miss Sunshine will be so excited; she loves Mexican)
Tuesday:  Crustless Quiche & veggies (Miss Sunshine to cook, as I'm out)
Wednesday:  Veggie Plate
Thursday:  The kids will have leftovers, while hubby and I are at our school associations EGM, for dinner
Friday:  Fend for yourself Friday
Saturday:  Slow Cooker Texas Pulled Pork, coleslaw
Sunday:  Zucchini soup and bread rolls

The link to the Passionate Penny Pincher will enable you to receive the free PDF version of the Crocktober cookbook, with 20 recipes + some fancy extras, like a recipe for taco seasoning mix (I already have one I use instead of a packet), and ranch dressing mix...something I've been wishing for.  After you receive this year's and last year's Crocktober PDF recipe book you'll probably want to unsubscribe, because other you'll get daily emails with great penny pinching ideas, that are only useful if you live in the US.  Totally unhelpful for this Aussie gal.  But the book looks really worth that little hurdle.

If I get myself into gear, the other recipe I'd like to try out is Pumpkin Bars, which I saw being made by Jennifer at Glitter and Jams, on YouTube.  We, of course, don't get our mashed pumpkin from a can because Aussie's are apparently not quite as pumpkin obsessed as our US friends, but that recipe looked awesome!  I think this recipe looks pretty much like the one Jennifer made.

What are you eating for dinner this week?  And how do you go with your slow cooker?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Donating Goods Made Easy

I don't know about anyone else, but it seems like the hardest part of decluttering your stuff is getting it out of your house!  Over the last two school holidays (which are 3 months apart!) I have decluttered my clothes and my shoes, so I had two boxes of stuff I needed to donate, but it just feels hard to get the stuff into my car and then find a donation bin to put them in.  It's not hard.  The donation bin is in the Woolworths car park, just 800m up the road.  But my boxes won't fit in the hole they need to go in.  Also, you can see there are three boxes in that photo.  One box has been getting in the way for six months.  Guys, this is so silly.  It's not that hard, surely!

Well...I discovered the easiest, simplest way to get that stuff out of the house and donated, with no more effort than putting it outside the front door by 7am.  Really!

When I lived down in the suburbs the Diabetes Foundation used to phone me (actually, it was before the internet was terribly useful, or many people even had it at home) and ask if I had anything for them to pick up.  I would always say yes, and then make sure I made time to declutter and clear out those areas of the house that needed it.  You know, kids clothes, toys, shoes, kitchen stuff, books...whatever.  So they would come right to my house and pick up whatever I left outside.  Yay.

Now that the internet is useful and everyone has it these days (nearly, I know, not everyone has it, even in Australia), I went googling to see how I could still get the Diabetes Foundation to pick up from my house, and would they even come to Our Town.  I mean, we're not just around the corner in an easy-to-get-to suburb anymore.  As it turns out, if you live in Victoria, you can book a pick up online.  Yes, right from wherever you have your device without even having to phone anyone!  Because, who has time to get to a phone?  Well, maybe a ton of you do, but once school is back I sure don't.

All you do to get someone to pick up your still-useful-junk is go to their website, fill in the online form, select a date and voila!  When I get home tonight that stuff on my front porch will be gone and my junk problem solved!  Of course, you can phone, if you prefer that option - there is a phone number on the "book a collection" part of their website.

What's your favourite, most efficient way, of getting stuff out of your house and donated to someone who can make use of it?

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Slow Cooker Sadness - Desperately Need Help!

The slow cooker in the picture above is the one we were given as a wedding gift.  It's nearly 27 years old, but it's not been used that much.  As you can see, I make chicken stock in it.  And I recently succeeded with a vegetable minestrone.  But that is the extent of my slow cooker successes.

I really want to love my slow cooker.  I want to sing its praises and be totally in love with its ability to calmly cook my dinner.  But I don't.  Any time I cook meat in this thing it comes out dry, compared to cooking the same thing in the oven.  The meat has not ever come out tender and juicy.  Tender yes, juicy no.  The last casserole I did left me with some carrots that were cooked perfectly, and others that were still crunchy, and that thing had been going for 8-9 hours.

My Mum tells me not to get rid of it, because she thinks the old slow cookers do a better job.  Their low setting cooks at a lower heat than the new ones.  She has a new one and she misses her old one, but she was unable to replace the lid when that broke, so she was between a rock and hard place.

The other problem I have is that most recipes have a 6-8 cooking time, and I'm out of the house for about 11 hours, so that is just never going to work.  I know, I know, I could get a timer thingy like what you use to turn lamps on, but with all the other issues I have going on, it just doesn't seem worth it.

So, what am I doing wrong?  I want this thing to be my best friend, and at the moment it mocks me from the bottom cupboard.  Surely I'm not the only one who is yet to fall in love with this busy-mum's-best-kitchen-friend device?

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Fresh and Bright When I'm Not Feeling It

I wasn't going to post today.  Over these holidays I've been curled in on myself, a bit like a millipede when they feel uncertain or under threat.  I have been still and quiet and reluctant to push myself out. It would be counterproductive to say more than that, I think.

My breakfast, this week, is the very antithesis of what I've been feeling.  Colourful, fresh, bright, enthusiastic, if food could be considered such.  I'm normally a toast girl.  I love toast.  It is my very favourite thing.  A piece of toast with raspberry jam and I'm good.  But I don't think my mind and the rest of my body quite agree.  If all I ate was good sourdough bread my mind would be so happy.  And my body would be very ... difficult.  Therefore, I have been trying to find a good alternative to toast that I'm happy to eat day in day out.  Because breakfast is the only meal I'm inclined to be staunchly dedicated to one thing.  Every other meal needs to be the height of variety.  Interesting, different, tasty.

On the bottom I have plain coconut yoghurt.  I was introduced to this at a food exhibition hubby and I flew to Sydney for (and that is a whole story in itself!!).  We tasted the CoYo brand, and it is amazing.  Their guava and plum yoghurt?  Oh. My. Goodness!  Delicious!  Their ice cream?  I could dive right in, and I don't adore ice cream.  Well of course, I can't get that brand in my little excuse for a Woolworths store, so I've had to experiment with what they have on the shelf here.  I tried the Nudie brand, and I wasn't thrilled.  It feel smooth-but-gritty (don't ask me how that's even possible), and the flavour was kind of watered down.  Then I tried Nakula.  It is pretty close to the CoYo, so I haven't gone any further.  And it's cheaper than the others, so that's a bonus.

Over the yoghurt is some organic berry cluster granola from Aldi, and then fresh strawberries on top of that.  I'm not a cereal lover, but I like it with the yoghurt and fruit as a crunchy texture in something otherwise smooth.  Also, I just felt like I needed to chew something, and yoghurt doesn't do that for you.

An interesting observation with the coconut yoghurt:  I prefer it to regular yoghurt.  If you're someone interested in plant-based food or you're intolerant to dairy, this is a magnificent alternative.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Fifty Bookish Questions Book Tag

One of my favourite things to do is read.  My favourite holidays are the ones where all I do is read.  My record on this front:  21 books in 3 weeks.  And yes, the kids did get fed.  At the time I was reading to review for my dear friend Rel, over a Relz Reviewz.  When I began my degree I had to give that away, and a teaching career seems to be at odds with the time required for reading and reviewing as well.  I've certainly slowed down my reading pace.  Except during holidays where I am away from my computer and the internet.  So, here's a tag about all things bookish...50 questions, here we go:

1.  What was the last book you read?
"Enemies Among Us" by Bob Hamer

2.  Was it a good one?

3.  What made it good?
I enjoy books that are about law enforcement, and this book is all about that.

4. Would you recommend it to other people?
If someone enjoyed books with a law enforcement theme, then yes.

5.  How often do you read?
Every single day, usually right as I hop into bed.  As I mentioned, on school holidays and weekends, any time of the day is a good time.

6.  Do you like to read?
Yes, it's like air to me.  I have to read to stay sane.

7.  What as the last bad book you read?
Hmmmm, a think a few years ago I was handed a book to review that was a US political setting, which usually I love, because "The West Wing" is one of my favourite TV series.  I can't remember the title, and wouldn't name it if I could.  That wouldn't be fair to the author, and the readers who did enjoy it.

8.  What made you dislike it?
It just didn't grab me, and the writing wasn't brilliant.

9.  Do you wish to be a writer?
Nup.  Never even dreamt that it would be a good idea.

10.  Has any book ever influenced you greatly?
Absolutely!  Every book I read has some part of it that I keep with me.  Some significant books include Mary DeMuth's Defiance Texas trilogy, Charles Martin's When Crickets Cry and the O'Malley series, by Dee Henderson are all standouts.  But there are so many more.

11.  Do you read fan fiction?
No.  There aren't enough minutes in my day.  I didn't even know what it was until just recently.

12.  Do you write fan fiction?
Obviously not, LOL.

13.  What's your favourite book?
I really actually can't answer that.  My book shelves are brimming with excellent books that I have adored.  Anything by Charles Martin is a treat.  Also, as a debut author Dorothy Adamek writes absolutely exquisitely.  I don't tend to pursue historical romances (although I always end up enjoying them), but I have been known to pester Dotti to finish the next book in her trilogy.

14.  What's your least favourite book?
Anything non-fiction or study-related.  A sure cure to my insomnia!

15.  Do you prefer physical books or reading on a device?
Physical books, all the way.

16.  When did you learn to read?
I remember choosing readers when I was in Prep and Year 1, so I guess when I started school.    I began devouring books when I was 8yo.

17.  What is your favourite book you had to read in school?
The Harp in the South by Ruth Park

18.  What is your favourite book series?
The O'Malley series, by Dee Henderson

19  What is your favourite author?
Charles Martin, Dorothy Adamek, Lisa Samson, Chris Fabry, Terri Blackstock, Robert Lipurlo, James Rubart, Tosca Lee....oh let's face it, I could name all the authors of the books I possess!

20.  What is your favourite genre?
I'm partial to speculative fiction (The 13th Tribe is my favourite in that genre), I love good fantasy, and then anything you put in my hands will be happily accepted.

21.  Who is your favourite character in a book series?
Marcus O'Malley....swoon

22.  Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?
Every time I open one I go wherever my characters are.

23.  Which book do you wish had a sequel?
Any book that has an ending that leaves you wondering.

24.  Which book do you wish DIDN'T have a sequel?
I don't know...I haven't come across that problem!

25.  How long does it take you to read a book?
A standard 300-ish page novel takes about 6 hours

26.  Do you like when books become movies?
Yes...if it's done well.

27.  Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?
I don't know whether ruined is a good description, but lots of times the movie is quite different from the book and I have to remind myself the movie is good, in and of itself.  If I'd never read the book I would enjoy the movie.

28.  Which movie has done a book justice?
The Help

29.  Do you read newspapers?

30.  Do you read magazines?
Even more rarely.

31.  Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?
Magazines.  I only read papers more often because of proximity.  They're on the staffroom table.

32.  Do you read while in bed?
Every single day.

33.  Do you read while on the toilet?
No...that is not a comfortable place to read.  That is also not the point of being on the toilet....

34.  Do you read while in the car?
Only on really long trips, and only for a short time.

35.  Do you read while in the bath?
No.  I don't take baths.  The last time I had a bath I was in labour with my nearly-20 year old!

36.  Are you a fast reader?
I think so.  I guess it depends on who you're comparing to.

37.  Are you a slow reader?
I don't think so ... see above.

38.  Where is your favourite place to read?
In bed.

39.  Is it hard for you to concentrate when you read?
No, not usually.

40.  Do you need a room to be silent while you read?
Yeah, pretty quiet.  When I get into bed I always shut the door so I can't hear the TV, because that is distracting.

41.  Who gave you your love for reading?
My Dad was my Sunday school teacher when I was in Grade 3, and he gave me Elizabeth Gail and the Mystery at Johnson Farm by Hilda Stahl as my end of year prize/gift.  I wasn't thrilled with the idea of a book until we moved to PNG 3 months later.  We had no TV, so I gave reading a go.  I've never looked back.

42.  What is the next book on your list to read?
Where the River Ends by Charles Martin.  I cannot even wait!  My current book needs to get finished up!!!  And since we're on the topic of Charles Martin being next up, I am also impatiently cooling my heels for the 12th of October, when The Mountain Between Us comes out in cinemas here in Australia.  The book was magnificent so I know I'm going to love the movie.  Even if it doesn't follow the book as closely as I always want them to.  I mean really, an evening with anything from the hand of Charles is well worth the time!

43.  When did you start to read chapter books?
See Question 41 - about 8yo.

44.  Who is your favourite children's book author?
Enid Blyton

45.  Which author would you most want to interview?
My book club got to interview Charles Martin about 10 or so years ago.  He is the most lovely southern gentleman.  He was just delightful, and we asked him all kinds of questions, which he answered thoroughly and graciously.

46.  Which author do you think you'd be friends with?
Jen Hatmaker and Shauna Niequist (the two exceptions to my non-fiction avoidance)

47.  What book have you reread the most?
I don't really have time to reread...too many books not enough time.

48.  Which books do you consider 'classics'?
I don't really think of books as "classics".  The ones people consider as classics are often ones I don't tend to enjoy.

49.  Which books do you think should be taught in every school?
Since I read almost exclusively in the Christian market, I'm probably not a very good person to ask.

50.  Which books should be banned from all schools?
I like my books clean, and I'm inclined towards that standard for my students as well.  There are plenty of excellent books without them needed to be filled with potty language and adult content.  Those points can be made without taking the reader right down into the gutter.  A skilled author can tell their story and not fill the reader's mind with trash.

Monday, 25 September 2017

What's for dinner, Mum? Menu Plans for the School Holidays

In my head I think school holidays is for cooking slow food.  You know, a slow roasted lamb shoulder, homemade pasta, lasagna.  All the things that take time, that I don't have through the school term.  The reality is never anywhere close to what it is in my head.  In reality, I may have the time, but I am so whacked and the thought of cooking just further tires me out, even though I haven't necessarily done anything.  One example of this happened on Saturday.  Hubby and I went out for breakfast and did one other errand.  I came home and slept for three hours.  I literally crawled to the end of the term with my eyes hanging out of my head!  So my menu plans look more like school-term plans, but the kids will be happy because apparently when Mum is home, Mum cooks. 🙄

Monday:  Potato & leek soup, bread rolls
Tuesday:  Meatloaf, veggies (I use 1/2 kg mince & add a grated carrot to this meatloaf recipe - the best!)
Wednesday:  Jacket potatoes with coleslaw
Thursday:  Risotto
Friday:  Mediterranean vegetables (this is a tray of things like, potato cubes, zucchini, mushrooms, green beans and red capsicum cut into large cubes and baked in lemon juice, olive oil and Italian herbs)
Saturday & Sunday:  We have a couple of events so we'll be hither and yon.

For the record, I am a very lazy risotto maker and all the Italians of the entire world be horrified.  When I have followed all the "correct" steps, my rice never feels cooked, but still a bit hard.  I don't like it like that.  So I follow the steps up until you're adding stock a little at a time.  When that starts happening, I dump in all the stock and put the lid on.  I stir every now and then and 10 minutes or so later the rice is usually cooked perfectly.  Then I finish off with butter and parmesan.  I usually cook the other ingredients separately and add them at the end too.

There you have it.  A school term recovery menu.  What does your family like to eat during school holidays?

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

25 Food Questions Tag

Image Credit
I really enjoyed putting together my Great Aussie Mum Tag last week, so I decided to go looking for other fun tags.  This week, it's 25 Food Questions.  We all like food, so I figured anyone could relate. Here we go...

1. What's your favourite breakfast?
Toast (or a croissant on special occasions) with raspberry jam.  If I'm out for breakfast I often go for something with smoked salmon.

2. How do you drink your coffee?
I don't.  I am a tea girl.  I don't like coffee.  I wish I did...hubby is a roaster and coffee wholesaler.  His coffee is apparently awesome.  But coffee is not my friend.  I find it bitter.  He sells great teas though, so all is not lost.

3. What's on your favourite sandwich?
Ohhhh.... a fresh baguette from The Artisan Crust, with brie, fig jam and salad greens.  Just need to take a moment....

4. Soup or Salad?
Definitely a seasonal answer.  Soup in winter, salad in summer.  Can't have soup in summer cos it's too hot.

5. What's your favourite cookbook?
You want me to choose?  Hmmmmm...anything by Nigella Lawson.

6. No more sweets or not more hearty foods?
No more sweets.  Sugar gives me heartburn and insomnia.  I don't need that kind of help.

7. What's your favourite cuisine (country)?
Asian.  Two Malaysians in the family has trained us well.

8. What's your favourite food movie?
Love a good food movie!  Julie and Julia.  Second favourite is No Reservations.  Third favourite is Chocolat

9. What's your most guilty pleasure?
Tira Misu for dessert.  And then eating the whole pan over the week because someone made it for me, for my birthday.  Not even sorry.

10. What's your greatest inspiration source?
TV cooking shows & Nigella Lawson

11. Cooking at home or going out for dinner?
Going out - even to a friend's home.  It always tastes better when someone else cooks.

12. High end or low profile?
I don't know what that means.  Restaurant quality?  I think some of the best food can be found in little hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

13. What's your favourite restaurant?
Nudle (Knox).  The Cherry Tree (Healesville).  Elevation (Emerald).  Anywhere that does good Yum Cha.

14. I do my grocery shopping at:
Aldi, and then Woolies if I can't get something at Aldi.

15. The tastiest food I've ever eaten was:
A mango, chickpea and feta salad my friend made once.  Oh my goodness, so yummy.

16. What's your favourite cocktail?
I don't drink alcohol past the very rare moscato.  I'm more of a sparkling water kind of gal.

17. Coffee with George Clooney or Heston Blumenthal?
So, it would be a cup of tea, and probably with George.  I was an ER fan way back in the day.

18. What should not be missing in your kitchen?
My oven.  I keel over when the power is out for more than a day!  I use the oven every single day.

19. What's your favourite snack?
At the moment?  Sweet snack is Forresters coconut rolls from Aldi.  This answer changes constantly. Savoury snack, camembert cheese on cranberry & pumpkin seed crackers.
Image Credit
20. What's on your pizza?
thin crust, homemade tomato sauce, basil, real mozzarella

21. What food do you really dislike?
Stereotypical Aussie stuff:  Vegemite, beetroot, weet-bix.  I've tried beetroot a few different ways, as an adult.  I really don't like it.  And blue cheese.  It just tastes like vomit.  I wanted to like it, but I just don't.

22. What's your favourite food blog?
I don't really follow one.

23. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
Jellyfish - the texture is nothing to be excited about.  And chicken's feet - they taste OK, but there's so many bones and not much flesh.  It's just not worth it.

24. What's on your food bucket list?
I want to succeed at making a roast beef.  It's the one culinary skill that continues to escape my abilities.

25. I couldn't live without:
Having done a couple of fasts, I have discovered the two things I want most: a cup of tea and crackers with butter.  Who knew?!

What are your food loves and loathes?

Monday, 18 September 2017

Monday Menu Plan for the Last Week of Term 3

I'm rather inclined to insomniac behaviour.  I don't seem to need a ton of sleep hours each night (six is a good night) and I generally wake between 5-6am.  Miss Mischief, therefore, has declared me a morning person.  I'm not really.  I don't like to be near other people in the morning.  I want silence and solitude and I get grumpy when others are around and requiring things from me.  I hate listening to other people chew loudly in the morning.  See...not so much a morning person.  If I'm left alone I'm quite the happy camper.  My very dear blogging friend, Frances, posted once, about introverts, that said something along the lines of "Hell is people for breakfast".  Amen and amen.  Morning is most introverted moment of the day.

I know the end of the school term is nigh, because I am sleeping.  A lot.  This past week I've racked up a 10 hour night, an 8 hour night (albeit with a 2 hour break in the middle!) and I had a lovely long nap this afternoon.  I'm tired, you guys.  Bone weary, falling-over-the-line tired.  I am just hanging on to reach the finish line on Friday, when Term 3 ends in Victoria and I get to work in my PJ's and sit in bed with my computer, instead of racing out the door by 7.15am.  I have to be very deliberate about the time I spend working and the time I spend resting during school holidays.  I need to rest.  I am compelled to work, because a whole bunch of term planning needs to be completed before I head back to school in Term 4.

My menu plan for this week probably reflects my exhaustion.  I'm really hoping the kids will step up and step into the kitchen so we make to the end!

Monday: quick quiche, veggies (someone?  anyone?)
Tuesday: oven fried chicken, veggies (Miss Mischief could handle this one)
Wednesday: minestrone & bread rolls (I'm home and finished study, so this one is mine)
Thursday: tuna and rice (Miss Sunshine will be the hero of the dinner table)
Friday:  fend for yourself Friday
Saturday: mushroom risotto (I use any recipe that looks good, but I dump in all the liquid at once and put the lid on, after that sautéing of the rice step - it's lazy, but it works)
Sunday: sweet & sour chicken meatballs (I make mini chicken meatballs using my wonton recipe, and then do a ton of stir fried veggies with a sweet and sour sauce (p190) from my iconic "Cookery the Australian Way" book.

How are you going with the end of the term looming?

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Great Aussie Mum Tag

Today I'm borrowing an idea that I saw pop up on YouTube recently. I figured there was no reason it couldn't translate to a blog, just as well as a video, right? Right! So here we go - the Great Aussie Mum Tag!

Vegemite or promite?Neither. YUK. Dad tells me I'm a really bad Aussie kid, cos I don't like weet-bix or beetroot either. I buy Vegemite for the one child who eats it. Does that count?

Neighbours or Home and Away?
I wasn't allowed to watch Neighbours, but we were allowed to watch Home and Away (I was about 14 or 15 when it began). In its early days it was more family friendly. I gave it away when my kids were teeny tiny, because it just wasn't appropriate for them.

Woolies or Coles?
If I had a choice it would be Coles. But Woolies is the only one within half an hour of me. Luckily we have an Aldi in Our Town, so I go there first, before I decide if I need to go to Woolies.

What's one thing about raising kids in Australia that you love? 
I love that we laugh at ourselves, and don't take ourselves too seriously. Humour covers a multitude of sins, and diffuses a bunch of potentially sticky situations.

Is there anything you would want to change about Australia for your childrens future?
I would love us to be able to discuss tricky things without one side yelling at the other because they don't agree. It's so important to ask questions that help us understand others, rather than fling attacking words around. I would be appalled of my kids or my students behaved the way lots of adults are behaving at the moment.

What do you wish Australia had that other countries do?
Hmmmm...totally random thing: bison burgers. We had them in the States and they were sooooo good!

Whats your favourite city, town or holiday spot?
Tassie. Hands down, every time. I first went there as a 5yo, when my Dad flew us down there to visit his family. I have been love ever since. I would take a trip to Tassie over Queensland any day of the week.

If you had a choice, would you continue to live in Australia? (or we could ask, what is your heritage?)
I'm ridiculously Australian (my kids are 7th generation Aussies). I love Australia, it's home to me, but if I needed to live somewhere else that would be OK with me too. I lived overseas as a kid, so there is a whole bunch about my identity that is at odds with Aussie culture.

You're not Australian unless……? You head to the coast for a camping holiday in your caravan or tent.

How do you like to spend Australia Day?!
Having a bbq with friends, with homemade lamingtons for dessert (and hence we are a no-jam-lamington family, because jam just doesn't work when you make 'em yourself).

What sport do your kids play?
None. We had zero money when they were at an age to play sport, and they've never raised the issue.

Fave Aussie movie? It used to be The Castle. Now, I think it's The Dressmaker.

Fave Aussie Celebrity/Musician and why? Olivia Newton-John and John Farnham, especially when they perform together. Showing my age, huh.

Which Aussie Celeb are you sick of hearing about in the media? I don't know that any of them get an oversupply of air time, do they? Maybe I just don't listen to enough media to hear about them.

Favourite typically Australian past time? That camping holiday by the sea.

Favourite Aussie slang word/phrase? I'm gonna go with "Fair Dinkum".

Favourite Aussie animal? Echidna. They are the cutest little prickle balls on the face of the planet. Up close and personal they are even cuter. Just make sure you pet them going with the quills, instead of against!!

Favourite Australian Childrens book? 
Anything by the amazing Mem Fox

Favourite brand of nappies? We're well beyond this phase of life in our house. Back in the day it was Huggies at night, and I bought day nappies in bulk from a place in Ferntree Gully.

Favourite family meal? Anything I cook, apparently. Tuna & Rice, Bacon-wrapped chicken, lasagne, chicken casserole, bbq's in summer when it's too hot to cook lot eat anything.

If you decide to take on this tag, please be sure to let me know. I'd love to read your answers.

Monday, 11 September 2017

End of Term Monday Menu Planning

The end of Term 3 is just barely around the corner, and around here we are tired.  This week I've tried to include some "cook smarter" meals, where we cook extra and plan for leftovers to be another whole meal.  Hopefully it works - it means making sure everyone knows what not to eat during the day!

The plan for this week...
Monday:  Thai chicken curry (Mr Busy has been instructed to cook extra)
Tuesday:  Chicken Kiev's, frozen veggies, potato wedges
Wednesday:  leftover curry & leftover casserole from Sunday
Thursday:  Veggie Plate
Friday:  Fend for Yourself
Saturday:  Chicken wonton soup
Sunday:  Minestrone & bread rolls

As I type this I realise I will be out of home for dinner three nights in a row.  Dh & I have an event to attend, and then I have parent-teacher meetings at the end of the week.  I feel a bit sad about that.  Towards the end of the term, and the tireder I become the more I hibernate as much as possible.

How is the end of your term progressing?  Or, if you live somewhere where school has just begun, how is the transition to routines going for you?

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Frugal in the Supermarket - 5 Things I (Almost) Never Buy

Many years ago, now, my husband left a very well paying management job to become self-employed.  In those early years it came with a lot of struggles and challenges, when things took a lot longer to get off the ground than he had planned.  Thus began a journey, for me, in managing our household budget in an extremely frugal manner.  I'm a natural saver, so I already leaned in this direction, but things became quite hard there for a while.  Many years later, and with a more stable, sustainable income base I am still inclined to saving money, especially in the supermarket.  If you've been here for any length of time you know I hate shopping, so that saves us a ton.  But the supermarket must be entered every single week, darn it.  Here's some tips to keep costs down in the supermarket, with a list of things I (almost) never buy.

Ice cream
I buy ice cream very, very rarely as a special occasion item.  It is not something that enters our house on a regular weekly basis.  In the early days of Dh's business it was an item that cost money, for no nutritional benefit, so it got axed from the grocery list.  As it turns out, I don't prefer it anyway.  It's too sweet, so if I'm going to have something with that rare dessert, I'd rather have cream.  And cream is cheaper.

Snacky Packets
We leave all snackety packety things right where they are, in the supermarket.  Cheese sticks, chips, flavoured crackers, cheese & dip packs, muesli bars.  Anything you might be inclined to pop in a lunch box; these things don't enter our house.  I know, I hear you asking "what do you send for your kids' lunches?"  When they were in school they got a sandwich, a piece of fruit and something home baked for recess.  If I bought crackers, we bought them in larger boxes and the kids just took a smaller container.  I hear, all these years later, the kids had severe lunch box envy.  You know what?  They got fed and other kids wished their Mum's baked for them.  You can never win on this one!

Pre-Packaged Meals
Never is probably too strong of a word here.  Every so often I buy a frozen meal for a lunch here and there for me, if I'm desperate.  Towards the end of the term I am inclined to buy pre-prepared things like meat pies or chicken Kievs to go with veggies we cook at home.  What I am not in the habit of doing, is buying things like filled pasta and pasta sauce, or lasagne that is already made, or pre-made soups, or Mexican dinner kits, or salad kits, for example.  We're really just not heat-and-eat kind of people.  We lived on the same property as some friends for a little while and something we noticed was that their bins were FULL of meals that came in boxes, already made. It was quite the eye-opener for me!

Salad Dressing
This is an absolutely never.  I make my own, usually using lemon juice or wine vinegars, olive oil and salt.  A fancy one might have honey and dijon mustard.  Every time I pick up salad dressings in the supermarket I am appalled at the "ingredients" and put the bottle right back.  The only thing in this category I buy is mayonnaise, and these days it is the whole-egg kind that has real stuff in it, now that I have the income to support that choice.

Tinned Soups
Again, I can't get passed the pseudo ingredients listed on the can.  Cannot do it.  If I have a recipe that calls for a tinned soup I make the rest of the recipe, add the actual ingredient of the "cream of..." soup required, and thicken it with cornflour.  The only tinned ingredients I really keep are tomatoes, corn, champignons, pineapple, coconut milk and pie apples.  The tinned section of my pantry is pretty small.

Frozen Stuff
I won't say never, but it is certainly rare that I buy things out of the freezers in the supermarket.  It's certainly not a habit, but it might happen a little towards the end of the term, when our food life is falling over.  I probably buy a bag of frozen veggies a handful of times a year, and about the same in a dessert.  I pretty much skip this whole section of the supermarket 99% of the time.

And a bonus (almost) never is yoghurt.  I've bought yoghurt a little bit in the last few weeks, but mostly it doesn't make it into the supermarket trolley either.  Mostly yoghurt is full of sugar, so the benefits seem to be outweighed there.

Now that you know what we don't buy very often, if at all, you must be wondering how on earth we manage to eat!  We eat real food.  Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, home-baked items and basic ingredients, from which we make meals at home.  I'm posting my weekly menus on a Monday again, so you'll see that we eat pretty well.  We mostly eat toast for breakfast, although Mr Busy often has microwave porridge (a huge concession on my part, but at least he eats breaky this way).  I have leftovers for lunch and the girls make stuff at home.  Again, Mr Busy is my compromise here, because he doesn't eat lunch very often, if I make it.  I send cup-a-soup's and tinned spaghetti with him so they won't go off and he can eat (or not) as he desires.  That boy will be the very end of me!  Just as well he's the last.

Including the money I would spend in Costco every 3 or 6 months or so, our grocery budget does not exceed $150/week, for the five of us, who are all pretty much adults.

What things do you never buy in the supermarket?  Or, what things would you like to scale back on?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Teacher Plan with Me Series....

On my Tracy's Primary Pandemonium blog I've begun a Teacher "Plan with Me" series.

I'm discussing how I use my "Reminder" App to create to-do lists.  This is working really well for keeping me on track and powering through all the things I need to get done.

Do you need to run assemblies at your school?  Today, I'm discussing how I prepare and the kinds of things my Year 3/4's love to include.  It's almost no work on my part because 9 and 10 yo's are so enthusiastic and fairly independent.

Monday's Menu Plan

I am taking a study day, today.  I have this killer assignment that will most certainly be the death of me, and I am determined that after today I will be done with it.  Over the course of this year I have come to the conclusion that I am no theological academic.  I get it, in my head, but writing Masters-level essays on theology stuff is just not my jam.  Also this week, I'm at school for dinner one night, when our Primary families will be coming back to school for a Maths Games Night.  And this is my second challenge for the week.  It's meant to be a sports themed night.  My issues with this are two-fold.  Firstly, I am not a sporty kind of gal, and secondly I am not a dress-up kind of gal.  Because I'm not sporty, and don't enjoy dressing up I have very little in the way of sports clothes.  How am I going to solve this problem?  I have no idea.

I have, however, solved the problem of what to eat for the week.  Now there's a challenge I can overcome with my eyes closed.

Monday:  Chicken parmigiana & veggies (using the tenderloins I crumbed & froze last week - yay me).
Tuesday: Pasta Bolognese (Mr Busy cooking)
Wednesday: Chinese simmering chicken, rice, veggies (again, prepared & frozen, ready to cook, last week)
Thursday:  Veggie plate (Miss Sunshine cooking - roast potatoes, cauli/brocc au gratin, carrots, corn on the cob)
Friday:  Fend for Yourself
Saturday: Chicken casserole with leftover roast from the weekend
Sunday:  Minestrone & bread rolls

By the time I get to Wednesday I might actually get a real day off.  One of the ones where you actually do no work, for which you have obligations to your employer.

Bring it on!

Monday, 28 August 2017

Monday Is Menu Day

It's Monday again.  I tell you, this term is positively flying!  Which is good.  And bad.  I've still got so much to get organised before Parent-Teacher meetings that happen in just three weeks!  Then again, I know we're deep into the term, because the food thing is falling apart over here.  We all want to eat healthy, delicious dinners, but none of us have the mental wherewithal to actually cook.

I did some self-protective work this weekend.  I have got four meals prepared and ready for cooking sitting in my freezer.  It feels like the best compromise for preparing ahead, that I can manage.  Cooking whole meals is too much work to be reasonable (I have five adult people here), and I'm still not totally in love with the crock pot idea.  I'm just not enjoying the dry-ish, stringy way the meat turns out each time I try it out.  But the minestrone soup I did a week or two ago did work, so maybe that's my ticket there.

So here's the menu for this week:

Monday:  Chinese simmering chicken, rice, veggies (+ another in the freezer)
Tuesday: Veggie Plate (a plate of roasted & steamed veggies)
Wednesday:  Crumbed chicken with orange and cranberry sauce, veggies (+ another in the freezer)
Thursday:  Beef Burgers and wedges
Friday:  Fend for Yourself Friday / leftovers
Saturday:  Chicken & corn soup, prawn gyozas
Sunday:  Maybe a roast chicken?  I've run out of ideas!

What's on your table this week?

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The 80/20 Rule for Mum Success

The hilarious Jen Hatmaker released her newest book, "Of Mess and Moxie" last week.  She shared a small excerpt on TODAY's Parenting team website to whet our appetite a few days later ,and I giggled my way through the whole thing.  Or maybe there was actual laughing out loud.  My kids now roll their eyes and ask if Jen is involved.  All I can say is I'm really glad a copy of her book is sitting on my bedside table.  Jen is funny and smart and real and challenging and full of snarky sarcasm that just seems to be match my own blunt directness.  She's the kind of person you'll wish lived right next door to you.  And you'll certainly wish you were part of her tribe.  I know I do!  Like any really good friend, we have differing views on some things here and there, but the really important things hold true regardless.

What I loved about this little excerpt (besides her hilarious communication style) is the sentiment that it's OK to be a good enough Mum most of the time.  That's not to say we should aim low, but it is important to know that we're not perfect.  And we're not!  None of us are perfect, so I wonder why it is that we seem to think that we should be perfect in our parenting?  Read the snippet - you'll realise that maybe your 80% success is actually pretty good.  Because, you know, have you ever driven an hour in the wrong direction to an excursion location to meet your kids that aren't there?  No?  See, you're doing great!

I mentioned, just recently, that my son takes fake food, like cup-a-soup and tinned spaghetti for lunch these days.  And I haven't actually cleaned my own house in about a year (I outsource this job).  I have forgotten my kids in all kinds of places.  Miss Mischief in a supermarket in Malacoota, picking kids up from school at the right time (to be fair, they were returning from camps at odd times).  Once I forgot to take my kids to a birthday party.  My friend phoned to ask if we were coming....yep...just a bit late, as it turned out.  I'm never normally late.  If you're like me, you've screeched at your kids, you've failed to keep a promise, you overreacted and probably done a thousand other things you wish you could retract.  And you know what?  These are all opportunities to model apologising, asking for forgiveness and dealing with disappointment.  So I guess our 20% failure rate turns out to be a silver lining in an otherwise grey cloud.  We get to help our kids develop resilience and persistence and empathy.

So Jen is shooting for 80/20 success rate, or so.  What are shooting for?

Monday, 21 August 2017

Monday Menu Planning

Do you ever get to the end the day and wonder where it went?  I certainly felt like that at the end of recess and lunch time.  Where did that break go?  I haven't finished my tea yet.  And I need to finish my tea.  I don't drink coffee and days with no release time are full on.  Tea is essential!  And sugar of some description.

The good thing is that I managed to get my menu plan and grocery shopping done.  On Sunday.  Sadness.  I so enjoyed not having to do that last Sunday, but you can't be at work all afternoon on Saturday and expect to get the grocery shopping done, now can you?

In any case, we have a menu, and one meal has been prepared, consumed and cleaned up.
Monday: Thai chicken curry, rice, roti bread
Tuesday: Chicken Kiev (pre-prepared from Aldi), vegetables
Wednesday:  Oven Friend Chicken, vegetables
Thursday:  Mum & Dad are bringing dinner with them (Hallelujah!)
Friday:  Fend for Yourself Friday
Saturday:  Homemade pizza (using Aldi pizza bases from the bread section)
Sunday:  Veggie Plate (a plate filled with roasted & steamed veggies)

We're exactly half way through Term 3, and you can tell that things are starting to slide, in the food department.  Pre-prepared, pretend chicken is evidence.  You know what?  I don't have the wherewithal to care that much.  And yet I do, but other things seem to get in the way of the time it takes to prepare the kind of dinner I really yearn to eat.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

How to Feel Like You're Not Really Cleaning

If you've been here long enough, you know I outsource our regular household cleaning for floors and bathrooms.  It was something that was truly getting the best of me when I began teaching full-time, so I found someone who was willing to help me out with that.  Even though I have someone in once a fortnight, there are still a whole bunch of little things that need to be done more regularly, or things I don't have my wonderful cleaners do for me.  Like the cooktop and the oven and the microwave and any vertical surface in the kitchen.

The other thing you will know about me, by now, is that I am ridiculously sensitive to chemicals.  By which I mean synthetic and super scented stuff you buy these days.  I don't mean naturally occurring, in-their-natural-state things.  So for me, cleaning is a bit of a thing.  It requires rubber gloves and being extra careful not to get stuff on me...even dishwashing detergent.  It is quite ridiculous, and yet me skin will scream at me if I'm not overly cautious.  I'm still trying to clear up an encounter with liquid hand soap, of the foaming variety, from back in April.  It smelt so good, and it felt so fun.  Until the eczema arrived and I had to find and anti fungal cortisone cream to finally clear it all up.  Not so good or fun after all.

All that to say, I think I found something that works for me, and my cleaning needs.  An all purpose cleaning solution spray that I made myself at home, and use all the time around the kitchen, and it is fantabulous.  I have stainless steel appliances, and it is perfect for cleaning those and getting them nice and shiny and streak-free.  This stuff just does a beautiful job, and it doesn't make my skin go nuts.  A total win-win!  The best part?  I had every single thing in my pantry, so it kind of didn't even cost me anything.  Right?!  Also, because this stuff works so well, it doesn't even really feel like cleaning.  A quick spritz and the surface is shiny.  It's very satisfying!

All Purpose Cleaning Spray

2 cups water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid
2 teaspoons baking soda
a spray bottle

Pour the water, vinegar and dishwashing liquid into a very large bowl or jug.  Then add the baking soda - DON'T STIR IT!  It will fizz quite a bit, and you'll just need to be very patient and let it completely stop fizzing.  I stirred mine very minimally, every now and then, and when it finally stopped trying to overflow the container and everything was dissolved, then I poured the solution into a clean spray bottle I had.

To use it, just spray it on the surface you want to clean and use a soft cloth to clean as you normally would.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A New Blogging Adventure

Last night I took a step into a wild new adventure.  Well, it feels wild right about now!  Why am I adding something into this already frenetic life that is well and truly overflowing with too much to do?

It's one part courage and one part fear.  Courage, because I'm considering dabbling in selling teaching resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Also, I wanted a place to share things, specifically, about teaching.  The stuff non-teachers don't really need, and therefore really beyond the scope of this blog.  One part fear, because I love watching teachers on YouTube, but that feels like way beyond .... anything sane.  So a blog focussed on teaching is the saner idea of the two.

My first post went up last night.  And it'll probably be a very quiet little space, over there, for a while.  I've always been a social media refuser, so I have no other way to promote that it's there, other than here.  I have no real need for Facebook or Instagram or whatever else it is that people are using these days.  I don't even know!  At least I haven't had a need.  I don't know, maybe I need to be more open minded about that? I'll leave that question til another time - one adventure at a time is probably enough.

So there you have it - a new blog.  A new adventure.  New possibilities.  And a new logo I put together myself.  I have to say, that owl was worth every one of the few pennies I spent to procure the commercial licence required to use him.  Isn't he so, so cute?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Why I have always made my kids' lunches

I've been asked this question numerous times throughout my kids' school years.  Why don't your kids make their own lunches?  It's a good question!  Usually it comes with a little sprinkle of disbelief, because it doesn't gel with the level of independence and responsibility we generally require from our kids.  The last time I had this discussion it was with someone who has only known me a short time, and doesn't know our family dynamic all that well.

To be fair, Mr Busy has broken all the rules of expectation.  I don't actually make his lunch for him, but I do send him to school with a bag full of tinned spaghetti and cup-a-soups.  And yes, that doesn't gel with my beliefs about food vs food-like products either.  But this is a difference between the boy eating and not eating.  Like his father many years before him, I found a number of lunches languishing in the bottom of his school bag, and I am vehemently opposed to wasting my time and energy making food for people who won't eat it.  So the man people in our house get no special lunch treatment.  The flip side for Mr Busy is that he won't take food if he has to make himself.  I'm paying a pretty penny for him to go to school, so I want his brain to actually work.  Therefore I send him with things he'll actually eat.  And that can sit in his bag or locker and won't go off.  It's a definite compromise on my part, but I think it's working, for now.

The real reason I've always made my kid's lunches (and was prepared to make Mr Busy's through to the end of Year 12 as well), is purely and simply about my own self-preservation.  Yes, they can do it themselves.  They all cook dinners, they're all very capable.  But this is the barest, most selfish reason for making lunches for capable people:

I can't stand listening to the kids fighting the kitchen in the morning.  Cannot.  Even.

When the three of them were still in school I would make their lunches and pop them in their designated colour of Tupperware sandwich box along with a snack and piece of fruit next to it.  It was their job to pack it into their insulated lunch box and into the bag.  There.  They won't totally devoid of responsibility in the process.  Just the being in the kitchen part!

These days I have no idea if the girls are at Uni for lunch or at home, or at church, or at work...  Baby adults with University schedules are a whole other beast.  I only really make my own school lunch now, and provide Mr Busy with non-perishable options.  And a lunch order on Thursday's.  Yep.  The youngest is spoiled, because I got tired of parenting.  Sorry girls.  You wore me out.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Monday's Weekly Menu Post

A miracle happened on Saturday - I managed to get my grocery shopping done instead of doing it on Sunday.  It's been something on my mental list of things I wanted to change, because I really don't enjoy shopping (you already knew that, if you've read here long enough) and doing it on Sunday just always felt like a double whammy of unenjoyable.

Somewhere along the line, I feel like I'm winning at a bunch of organisation things.  Especially at work....I don't know how it happens, but my weekly planning is zooming along so well.  So is my menu planning at home.  Don't you love it when things seem to come together, almost despite yourself.  I enjoy those moments because inevitably something will come along and bite me in the butt at some point!

In any case, this week's menu plan, all planned up and shopped for on Saturday.  Oh glory be!

Sunday:  Homemade burgers
Monday:  Lasange (homemade from the freezer)
Tuesday:  Veggie plate (a plate full of all kinds of steamed and roasted veggies)
Wednesday: Rosemary balsamic chicken (I'm gonna try the crockpot...wish my luck)
Thursday:  Freezer meal = Meat/Chicken pies, frozen veggies, jacket potato
Friday:  Fend for yourself Friday

There's the week's meals planned.  Now to get myself sorted for my final assignment for the  year.  I am so looking forward to having an actual day off, rather than unpaid days where I still fulfil my contractual obligations.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Mum's Minestrone and a Crockpot Win

I have always been a reluctant crock-potter.  Partly because of the fare my mother produced in hers, when I was a child.  My mother and I have very different styles of cooking and preferences in food.  By far my tastes are more complex!  I am also more willing to put in more effort.  Don't get my wrong.  Mum is an excellent cook.  She just doesn't enjoy it, and isn't motivated to do more than necessary.  Also behind my crockpot reluctance is having produced some less than wonderful results.

My crockpot is as old as the hills, as you can see from the image below, which I found on Gumtree.  It was advertised as "retro".  Well, I'm not that old, but I have been married 26 years and this thing was a wedding gift.  It's not had that much of a workout and still works exactly as it did when we got it.  Mum insists the old crockpots were the best and not to get rid of it.  I've been a little more dubious.

Despite all of my reluctance and not-so-great experiences, which have included dry, stringy meat, I decided to give that thing another whirl.  I have Wednesday's off, so I figured that would be a good day to experiment, since I'm home to watch over it.  So, into that pot went my Mum's minestrone, minus the ham hock and beans.  I ended up having it on high all day, and it simmered very gently the whole time.  I turned it on low for a little bit, but everything just stopped moving and sank to the bottom.  I'm wondering whether 'low' is really just for keeping things warm, more than cooking things.  The last time I left something on low for 10 hours the carrots were still a little crunchy and the meat wasn't that tender.

An hour before I served dinner I threw in a few handfuls of risoni pasta and by the time we were ready to eat it was perfect.

That soup was the best thing I've cooked in the crockpot for years.  This coming week I'm going to try a rosemary balsamic chicken recipe and see how we go.  It was beautiful in the oven, so it had better live up to our high expectations!

Mum's Minestrone

Finely chop and saute an onion and 2 cloves of garlic, and then place in the crockpot, which is set on high.

Chop up into a fine dice:
3 carrots
1 zucchini
3 celery stalks
Throw into crockpot

Also add a tin of chopped tomatoes, Italian herbs and 1.5 litres water.

Set the crockpot to high and let it simmer for the day.  An hour before cooking add 3 handfuls of risoni pasta and cook for another hour.  You'll need to stir every now and then to make sure the pasta doesn't catch on the bottom.  You'll want to add salt (or not) to taste, depending on how you cook.

Serve with warm crusty rolls.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Monday means menus

What a day!  It began with a stereotypical Melbourne wintry morning.  Rain.  Grey, dark clouds.  Cold.  I had four students away and the rest were, shall we say, quiet and rather still.  Except for the two boys who decided to make some not-so-great behavioural decisions.  Sigh.

After hibernating all of Saturday, I managed to plan menus for the week, put together a grocery list and shop.  I also remembered to buy prizes for the room that went to sleep first, and the tidiest room, from camp.  And you can bet the kids were asking about those prizes....but I need to coordinate with the class next door and that just didn't go smoothly today with staff dropping like flies all over the place.

My successful menu plan is currently looking like this:
Monday:  Pasta bolognaise
Tuesday:  Thai chicken curry, rice, roti bread (Mr Busy cooking)
Wednesday: Mum's Minestrone (a bean free version) (me cooking)
Thursday: Honey soy chicken, veggies, rice (Miss Sunshine or me cooking)
Friday:  Fend for Yourself Friday
Saturday:  Burgers and wedges

Bonus for me, Mr Busy made the pasta to freeze and take on his snow camp last week.  It remained frozen and returned home, so that was dinner tonight.  We're all very happy not to be cooking!

What's on your dinner plates this week?

Sunday, 6 August 2017

After that I hibernated

I have slept.  And slept.  And slept some more.

This morning I realised that this is the first camp I've been on (as a teacher) where I have not had to be at school the day after returning.  And I realised why I got sick last year, after returning to school and having to teach the following two days.

Saturday was the day I hibernated.  I slept.  I watched some YouTube subscriptions.  I slept some more.  I popped out to get a family meat pie and some frozen veggies for dinner.  I may have read a chapter of my book, and then I went to bed reasonably early to sleep some more.

In the space of 24 hours, I slept for 11 of those hours.  Today I feel pretty good.  My feet have stopped aching and I happily went and photocopied all my stuff for Monday.  On Saturday I just couldn't face it.

The antidote to being on camp is definitely spending the next day sleeping.