Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's the last day of 2006. It has not been a stellar year, if you ask me. The real highlight of my year has been discovering the blog world. Especially the craft blogs, Posy, Pea Soup, Yarnstorm, have been so inspirational to me. And the beautiful people I have met along the way. I read a very diverse collection of blogs, and take something different away from each one I frequent. I may not always comment, there are days when the introvert in me just doesn't feel up to it, but I do always read. I do love you all!
I am looking forward to 2007. Several blogs I have read today have mentioned the fresh start, the clean slate of a New Year. I feel that way too. All the mistakes and miseries of the past year are just that, past. The future is exactly what we make of it, and I have high hopes and big dreams for the coming year!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Darling Husband laughs at me. He says that I am a magnet for needy critters, and that they know a softie when they see one. It's hard to dispute it after a day like today!

The kids were playing in the backyard when Samara ran in to tell me that they had found a baby bird that couldn't fly. I went to investigate, and they had discovered this cheeky little guy, a young grey butcherbird, or rather, he discovered them. When I got there he almost immediately flew up to me, and sat about a metre away, squawking in that hungry, insistent, baby bird way. I know he's a carnivorous bird, but I had no raw meat to give him, so I got a couple of bread crusts and he took them, in tiny pieces, straight from my fingers. He even allowed the kids to stroke his feathers a little! He is able to fly, but as far as I can tell, has lost his parents a little too young. They are usually such fierce providers for their young that I have no doubt that he's an orphan. He has been hanging around the garden all afternoon, and now I assume he's off to find a place to sleep the night.

So now I have a little bit of lamb defrosting on the sink to mince up for him if he comes back tomorrow!

Summer Christmas

Of course it starts with the tree. The more observant of you may notice, I moved the tree. This was really a whim, rather than a well thought out action, but it did mean we could use the lounge room sofas while the Great Gift Glut took place. Much nicer from a parent's point of view. I took this photo late on Christmas Eve. It has to be my favourite moment of Christmas, peaceful, yet so full of anticipated pleasure.

After going to church and opening our gifts we headed down to the Gold Coast for a funfilled couple of days with Grandma and Pop, Aunty Melissa, Uncle Brian and the cousins. We took all the children down to the park, as it was too windy to go to the beach. Aunty Liss produced bubble mix and the kids expended a lot of energy blowing and chasing bubbles, playing on the playground and terrorising the water fowl.

The kids had their own sitting of Christmas dinner, which was a range of cold meats and salads. It was lovely. The gingerbread house was created by Grandma, Aunty Liss and the girls. We thought them very clever! Gingerbread houses are a relatively new phenomenon here. We've all heard about them, but it's only been in the past couple of years that I have been seeing the kits etc. for making them.

We had a very enjoyable celebration. I hope that you all did too!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Everyone's here, now where's the Guest of Honour?

Our Advent Calender, which Darling Hubby bought last year, has provided us with hours of excitement throughout December. It's a magnet board, with the magnets stored in the little boxes around the border.

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's a rainy day today. The moment the rain hit the roof, at 6:24 am, I shot out of bed and into the rain in my nightie to drag the parched potted plants out from under the eaves of the house. The children are ecstatic, and keep running to the glass doors to look out as each shower drifts across the city. You see, Brisbane is in the grips of The Drought. Every so often we get a little rain, just enough to green up our dying lawn and give my little lime tree false hope. It flowers after every shower, then the tiny limes drop off the tree a couple of weeks later. It keeps trying though.
Today's rain does not promise to be any better. We have a forecast of showers leading up to a fine weekend. The dams are draining. Water restrictions mean that the children aren't allowed to play with the hose. We'll enjoy today so much for the hope it brings, and keep praying for the downpours we really need.

I have a little finish to show off. I am exceptionally proud of it, especially because my sewing machine is broken, so I have spent every spare moment of this week hand stitching the border of the little cushion. I still need to attach a ribbon to hang it, but I was so pleased with it that I just had to show off a little!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Monday: Pumpkin Pizza from last week
Tuesday: Lasagne and salad
Wednesday: Apricot chicken, rice, broccoli and carrots
Thursday: Steak burgers, home made chips
Friday: Takeout
Saturday: Chicken stroganof, fettucine and steamed vegies
Sunday: Roast turkey, potato, sweet potato, broccoli and carrots, gravy. Dessert of plum pudding and custard.
Monday: Christmas dinner with the in laws. I am making a large plum pudding and a pavlova to take for dessert.
Don't forget to check out Org Junkie for more menu plans!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pink Lemonade at the Pineapple Hotel
We have just arrived home from a lovely meal with Sarah, Douglas, dear little Tom and Sarah's parents. It was a very nice evening. It feels like an age since we last caught up, Sarah. Tom is growing like a weed. I just can't believe that he'd ever chuck a tantrum. He was a sunny little sweetheart all evening. My own terrors wore a path to the fabulously pink-lit ladies bathroom. I think that the lighting and the fancy taps had a lot to do with their suddenly weak bladders.
The food was delicious. I dined on fresh prawns, served in their shells on a bed of ice, much to the children's disgust. (Eewww I see its EYEBALLS!!!) Darling hubby seemed very satisfied with his bangers and mash. Kids ate fish and chips (though the salad seemed a little too nutritious to be edible). It was all very civilised, and a far cry from the burgers in front of the tv that is our usual dining out experience!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's braggin' time at our house. The kids had their concert and awards night last week. It was all so cute. Here's a picture of the three of them all dressed up and ready to go. There was a sausage sizzle beforehand, and I told the two older darlings that tomato sauce was totally off the menu if they were wearing white. They deemed it worth the sacrifice to wear their favourite clothes. Please ignore the plastic bags of unwrapped Christmas presents at their feet. I have started wrapping since then!
Samara's Grade One class sang "The Little Drummer Boy". It was gorgeous. They were all so proud of their costumes. Samara loved being an angel. They were beautifully in tune, and sang very clearly. The music and Grade 1 teachers were justifiably proud.

Christopher's Grade 2/3 class danced and sang "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth". Honestly, when they shouted "Sister Suzie sitting on a thistle" I thought I'd laugh til I'd cry. They had practiced their routine so long and hard, and they had it down perfectly! Edit to mention that Christopher is the kid in the background.

Now for a little bit of true boasting. Christopher got his results for the big Grade Three testing that took place earlier this year, and scored 100% in two parts of the numeracy testing. We knew he was good at problem solving, but were so proud to hear that he'd managed questions way beyond the expectations for his age. That's my boy!

Monday, December 11, 2006

I am starting my New Year's Resolution early. Our house is not good, and I plan on spending the next year, decluttering, organising and renovating it. Even basic routines seem to elude me some days. I feel a little ill admitting this, sad but true.

In order to keep me motivated and accountable I have started a fresh blog which will describe my daily goals and follow my journey. If anyone is interested in joining me, you can find it at Diary of a Desperate Housewife. I'd love some company!
Woohoo, Menu Plan Monday is back! I really missed this last week.
Monday: Lamb and Bean Casserole, Rice.
Tuesday: Grilled Maple Chicken, mashed pumpkin, broccoli, carrots.
Wednesday: Beef and Vegetable Stew, fresh bread rolls.
Thursday: Vegetable and pasta Bake.
Friday: Take away (take out, for you Americans :) - we're celebrating the end of the school year! (And pay day, LOL)
Saturday: Pumpkin and fetta pizza with macadamia nuts.
Sunday: Roast lamb, potato, pumpkin, broccoli, mint sauce and gravy.
We have a very busy week, with all the excitement of Christmas and school break up. On Friday afternoon I'll be hosting an afternoon tea to celebrate school finishing with a couple of families we are friends with. I am planning a nice menu for that party, as I will be home all day on Friday and have plenty of time for cooking. I'll update my blog when I have decided on an exact menu.
As usual, you have got to get yourself over to Laura's Organizing Junkie Blog for a whole lot more menu ideas!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas cooking time!
This afternoon I have been making these little 'plum puddings'. They are so easy to make, taste great and look good too. I borrowed the idea from an unknown little old lady, a friend of my grandmother's who brought a box of them to her in hospital a number of Christmases ago.
To make them you crumb a store bought dark fruit cake and moisten the crumbs with a couple of tablespoons of brandy. Roll it into small balls, and top each with a dribble of melted white chocolate and a quarter of a glace cherry. It's really that easy.
The Beloved Husband wants me to make a second batch for him to take to work for their celebration morning tea on Friday. I think I can oblige, though maybe I should pretend they're really hard to make, so as to gain extra wifely credit!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Here are the ornaments I have made for the children's teachers this year. Christopher chose Joy Tree, from M Designs, for his teacher. We gave her Peace Tree last year, so it seemed appropriate. Samara chose The Sweetheart Tree's Holly and Hardanger for her teacher. Both designs came from the 2005 JCS Ornament issue. I am very happy with how they turned out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I was going to put up pictures of some Christmas ornament finishes, but it appears Blogger is having photo issues right now. Bummer.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tonight we put up our Christmas decorations. The kids have been waiting all week for this moment. First we made them eat dinner and bathe, but after the parental brutality had stopped the fun began. There is a strict order to be followed, and because the first part is a bit boring, we did it while they were still in the bath. Set up the tree, test the lights (new ones this year, we seem to have misplaced the others in our last move), then put them on the tree. Mum applies the angel hair tinsel liberally, then baubles are added. The bottom half of the tree is very well decorated, the top half needs a little redistribution. The finishing toush is the angel, which Dad place on the top with due pomp and circumstance.

Then we settled down with popcorn for the children, and a delicious slice of fruit cake for the parents and watched The Santa Clause, purchased especially for the occasion. It was a lot of fun, though had to imagine snow falling and blazing fireplaces with airconditioners blasting and summer pajamas!

Oh, and our tree is tiny, because we purchased one that could be kept in a play pen, safe from toddlers. We had planned on buying a bigger one this year, but thought with the possibility of a real Canadian tree next year that to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a fake tree now would be a bit silly. The joy and excitement in our house tonight proves that size most definitely does not matter!

I am totally out of it today. I just made my lunch, turkey, semidried tomato, cheese and cranberry sauce toasted on Turkish bread.

Umm, no.

As I put the cranberry sauce jar back in the fridgeI realised it's actually strawberry jam. This should taste interesting.

I'll let you know if it's a combination worth repeating.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

We woke this morning to an eerie light. It's like sunrise all day, a sepia day. The world is suffused with a golden light, quiet and restful after the heat and glare of yesterday. Of course, there is a perfectly unromantic and disappointing explanation, the smoke of nearby bushfires is trapped beneath a layer of cloud. I am going about my morning under the cool glare of fluorescent lights, but when I glance at the windows, everything seems so radiant. And it's the perfect light to accentuate the orange of a stray cosmos flower which has sprung up in our driveway.

Summer is starting here, but what a strange beginning.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On my bedside table ...

The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton, by Kathryn Hughes, is a biography of that well known domestic goddess. I never knew she died when she was only 28!

Eldest, by Christopher Paolini, is the second of his fantasy novels, and follows Eragon.

Tales of the Otori Trilogy, by Lian Hearn, is a series I loved. Set in 'a mythical, medieval Japan' (from the dust jacket), the descriptive passages in this book I found absolutely entrancing, and the story keep me hooked. I have read the Trilogy before, but a fourth book has recently appeared, so I need to reread them. Woe is me!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Menu Plan Monday
Monday: Asparagus Quiche and salad (life got in the way of this meal last week)
Tuesday: Steak with creamy mustard sauce, pumpkin, silverbeet (chard), carrots.
Wednesday: Grilled Maple Chicken, mashed pumpkin, broccoli and carrots.
Thursday: Tagliatelle with spinach and pine nuts, salad.
Friday: Grilled salmon, salad, chips for the kids.
Saturday: Stirfried chicken and vegies, rice.
Sunday: Roast vegetable, mint and fetta penne. (This was a huge hit last week.)
So the plans are laid, just got to go shopping. We have been staying right on track with our healthy eating. Beloved Husband is a tremendous help, as he has WAY more willpower than I. We're trying a bunch of new healthy recipes this week, even the creamy sauce is made low fat. I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I have just spent an entire Sunday evening rearranging my blog. This is a big thing for me. HTML is a scary, incomprehensible gibberish for a closet technophobe like myself. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the computer age by my Beloved, who was sending emails to my university email account in 1994. I didn't actually read them until the following year, when I found out that I had an email account!

Anyway, here's the new improved blog ... hope you like it! And, of course, it's not a blog entry without a photo ...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Biscornu Heaven
A small finish I had today! As you can see, I have finished this Lizzie Kate design into a scissor fob. It came up pretty nice, I think. It only took me a couple of evenings to make, you can't get better than that!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Food, glorius food! I am ready to get back into my menu planning. We're trying to be good before the Christmas feasting commences, so here's a healthy menu for the week:

Monday: Sweet and Sour chicken, steamed rice and salad.

Tuesday: Home made hamburgers, roasted potato chunks, salad.

Wednesday: Roasted vegetable penne with mint and fetta, salad.

Thursday: Asparagus quiche, salad.

Friday: Grilled salmon, steamed vegies.

Saturday: Beef and red wine casserole, mashed pumpkin, broccoli

Sunday: Thai chicken and noodle salad. Kids will eat similar with no chilli.
Don't forget to visit Organizing Junkie for more yummy menu ideas!

I have been reading a new book this week, all about household cleaning, and cleaning schedules. It's called "Speed Cleaning" and it's written by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming, Aussie stain removal gurus.
I really love the simple advice in this book, mostly common sense, but stuff I have never really got the hang of. The cleaning agents recommended are cheap and healthier, primarily vinegar and bicarb soda, a definite plus in my asthmatic household. The fifteen minute claim is a bit of a stretch, on page 5 they then say to add an extra 10 - 15 minutes for each extra person in your house, as extra people mean extra mess. Dang those loopholes! This is a great book, but I have only one complaint : I've had the book five days, and my house is still not clean!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We have been down to the Gold Coast for a delightful weekend of sandcastles and surf. It was a much needed weekend of R&R for Brett, after several hard weeks of work. He was given Friday, his birthday, off, and we travelled down after school on Friday afternoon, as his Mum was cooking a delicious birthday dinner (Nanny Pawpaw's honey chicken, potato bake and sticky date pudding with caramel sauce - a little taste of heaven right here on earth!).
Saturday was spent at the beach, followed by a shopping trip for Brett and myself and a nap for the kids. (Thanks Grandma and Pop!) We bought a suit for Brett, to wear to the work Christmas Do next weekend, and some shoes. Quite a spree for my sweet hubby! Barbequed sausages at the park, courtesy of Pop, followed by a viewing of Wizard of Oz, made for a relaxing evening.
On Sunday Grandma and I took the children to the swimming pool while Brett and Pop went to an electronics sale. I took an impromptu dip when Joshua slid down a hand rail and disappeared under water. I leapt in after him, shoes and all, and reached him just as he was coming back up to the surface. He was fine, even a little impressed at his own 'swimming', but I was a bit shaky after that. And my shoes were squelching. Brand new leather Colorado shoes. *sigh* They have dried out now. Fortunately my watch didn't get wet!
So we're all adventured out. The kids were so tired when we got home, and Joshua is still a bit tired and cranky two days later. He's been practising his tantrum skills, and is perfecting them nicely. The terrible twos are a myth, it's the threes you gotta be scared of!

Lead us not into temptation ...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Surf's up! Christopher faces down a wave.

For those who don't know : here's a shot of the building we stay in with my lovely inlaws. We stay in the one on the right.

It's too cold!!

A room with a view. Aren't you proud of me, Mum?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thanks for all the charming comments regarding the biscornu I made. I googled the definition, and apparently biscornu is French for irregular or quirky. Basically it's a funny little eightsided pincushion, created by stitching the two squares of fabric together at a diagonal to each other. I don't explain really well, but I got the instructions from Own Two Hands. Her directions are easy to follow and well illustrated.

Three years fly past in the blink of an eye.
Happy birthday, my sweet tempered little gentleman. We're so proud of you.
As per his request, Josh had a "Bob the Builder Hat" for his birthday cake. And lots of watermelon.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

This is Cleo. She's a brand new member of our family. I just got her this morning. She's already charmed us all, especially Abbey, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Abbey has been rushing around behind her all day, making sure she's staying out of trouble. I think they are going to be best of friends. This afternoon I saw Cleo smooching up to Abbey, so that bodes well. StJohn, our other cat is unsure of what to think, but has checked the interloper out and decided she's not a threat. Anything that causes Mum to feed him earlier than usual must be A Good Thing.

We had an unexpected visitor last weekend in the form of a fledgling blue faced honeyeater. Apparently it takes them a couple of days to figure out how to fly and this little one leapt into the wide blue yonder only to crash into our shed and end up lying stunned on our back lawn. It was very fortunate for him that I was hanging out a load of laundry at the time, and I was able to pick him up and keep him safe until he'd recovered. His frantic parents weren't very grateful, though, and I was forced to use an umbrella as a shield as I put him in a tree. I did get some nice pictures though!

Finally here's a picture of one of our two lovebird hatchlings. She's a little creamino, and her colouring was a delightful surprise as her parents are perfectly average lovebirds. We must have had a few recessive genes lurking around in there! She's already had her first trip to the vet. She had a thread of cotton wrapped around her ankle and it had cut off the circulation. We managed to save her tiny foot though, with hot compresses and massage.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My first ever biscornu! I have stitched this up for an exchange I am participating in. It is a scissor fob. Here are photos of both sides. I couldn't find buttons the right size for the centre, so I did a couple of french knots on the purple side and an X on the pink side, in Krienik's gold.
I am so happy with it I'll be making a couple more as Christmas presents in the next week or so.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Menu Plan Monday
on a Tuesday
Roasted chicken breast with lemon pepper seasoning
asparagus, mashed pumpkin, mashed potato
Grilled salmon, broccoli salad, carrots, mashed potato
Grilled steak, peas, cauliflower, potato and carrots
Marinated chicken breast, brussels sprouts, green salad.
Baked chicken, carrots, silverbeet, mashed potato.
Baked fish, beans, pumpkin, chips.
Roasted pork tenderloin, cabbage, peas and carrots, mashed potato.
This week I am following a healthy eating plan, trying to kick start a bit of weight loss. I have included mashed potato and chips on my menu plan for the benefit of Beloved Hubby and the skinny kids.
Don't you just love my little spaghetti monster!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Yesterday I went to the Brisbane Craft and Quilt show, and spent a wonderful morning browsing and trying to absorb the millions of ideas that these places offer. I took a class in silk ribbon embroidery, specifically creating the spider roses pictured above. It was so interesting. I have wanted to try silk ribbon work for ages, but hadn't even figured out how to thread the needle. This class, run by Helen Dafter, showed me the basic ribbon stitch as well as the knack of threading the needle and starting off with ribbon. Now I am so ready to try other projects, especially the gorgeous evening bag on her site.

It has been a busy week for me. I have spent a lot of time at a friend's place, keeping her company and making cups of tea. She is going to be having her twins on Wednesday, and has been in a lot of pain. We had a nice time, sitting together and discussing babies.
I have also finished off Joy Tree. I am really pleased with how it has turned out, and am looking forward to giving it to Christopher's teacher. Samara is anxious for me to start her teacher's gift. I have so many projects planned between now and Christmas. It's kind of exciting to have all these wonderful plans for presents. I just need to remember them all!

Monday, October 16, 2006

My first ornament of the year, M Design's Joy Tree. It's not bringing me much joy right at this moment. I have to frog all of the unfinished half of the tree, because the tops of the y were supposed to meet and they did not. It is stitched over one on 28 count jobelan, and the thought of unpicking those tiny stitches is instant inspiration to procrastinate! I am stitching this for Christopher's teacher. She also taught him last year (composite Grade 2/3) and we gave her Peace Tree last Christmas. It seemed right to give her another tree design this year. The fabric colour does not photograph well. It's an off cut from Swirly Sampler, and is actually a pale green called Thyme, by Dragonfly Dreams. The floss is GAST Deep Sea.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

We are having a pleasant day today. As I write this we're all in the living room listening to Christopher's choir CD. The songs are all from movie soundtracks, so are very familiar. And I always get a bit teary to hear the cherubic voices of the children. The kids are funny. They are bouncing around on the couch, and every so often the urge to dance takes grows irresistable and they leap onto the floor and boogie.

At present I am stitching ornaments for teacher's gifts. There are only 8 weeks until school breaks up, so I am in a little panic. Every year I decide I should do an ornament a month to escape the end of year panic. Every year I end up having a little freak out in October and putting the finishing touches on ornaments on the last evening before school finishes. This year I have one less teacher to stitch for, so I am hoping that will help!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I have had a little blogging break while I digested a couple of largish pieces of news. It seems in our house we can go months with nothing dramatic happening at all, then a week will come along where we have so much to think and worry about that it's barely possible to sleep. This has been one of those weeks.

Our first news is that we are expecting to transfer in the next 18 months or so. From sunny, subtropical Brisbane to cripes-it's-snowing-today Canada. Toronto, to be exact. I am finding it hard to get my head around this. It's been a little pipedream of ours for ages, but Beloved Hubby's boss has promised he'll actually make it happen. There are projects going on here next year that Beloved Hubby is keen to be a part of, but after that ...

I am excited and scared about the cold, the kid's schooling, housing (we would be very baaad neighbours in an apartment), how we'll get around (I can't drive in snow!!??). You name it, I have worried about it in the past week! I keep telling myself that it's such a long way off into the future, and there's no point fretting about these things now, but I wouldn't be me without something interesting to worry about.

In other breaking news, it seems likely I have fibromyalgia, and I am being treated for it. I have been feeling very tired and as though I have the flu for months and months ( I don't remember exactly when it started, but I started seeing doctors about it in April). I am really hoping that this diagnosis is accurate, and that I'll start feeling a bit better soon! I was starting to wonder if it wasn't all in my head.

An update about my Swirly Sampler. I could not find an actual letter S in any of the quilting and scrapbooking stores I visited, but I did find these swirly clips, one of which will work perfectly as a swirly S. I will attach the S this weekend. There is a huge craft and quilt show at the convention centre starting on Wednesday, and I will try to find a suitable frame there before I resort to the expense of a framer.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I finished something!!! Here is Bent Creek's Swirly Sampler, which I stitched up in four weeks. I have done this as a gift for a very dear friend who is expecting twins in the next month. I still need to find an S shaped charm to attach for the letter S. The charm in the pattern is proving difficult to obtain, but I will be looking at the charms and notions in my local scrapbooking stores to see if I can spot anything appropriate. I am hopeful I will find something.

I loved this pattern. It was easy to stitch up, and has made me feel more inclined to tackle a few of those other WIPs which I have been avoiding.

Blogging while I wait for the kettle to boil. I really, really need a cup of tea. Tea is a topic I can preach on for hours. But not today.

Today my little hobby horse is the way that food has changed. Most particularly the proliferation of packaged convenience food that take the fun out of cooking. I do know that there is a place for convenience food in the kitchen. Heaven knows (and you know too, Mum) there are days that I don't feel like cooking. And on those days it's really nice to have a jar of pesto and a packet of spaghetti in the cupboard. It's when the convenience foods are used every day that I start to worry.

I worry that the food that we eat is so processed and preserved that it is no longer a recipe, so much as a chemical formula. Whole meals come out of a packet. When people no longer have twenty minutes to peel, chop and boil potatoes to make a mash, that bothers me. It can be challenging thinking of a menu every day, and dinner comes at the tired end of the day, I know, but it just doesn't justify resorting to highly processed foods and compromising the health of our families.

The one change I have made that has made the most difference to our eating habits is menu planning. When I don't have to decide what to cook for dinner then meal preparation goes much more smoothly. The cupboard and frisge are stocked with what I need to prepare an already decided upon meal, so it doesn't seem such an effort to make it. We are very flexible about our menu, and I try to set it up so that, on days I am particularly busy, the meal requires less work, or is of a 'set and forget' nature.

We are having a little difference of opinion in our house regarding lunch box treats. A few tears have been shed over the shortage of chips, sticky fruit sticks / rollups, and the plethora of sugar and preservative laden bar shaped goodies in our house. I have gently explained why I don't think these treats are ok at school, and now I am desperately seeking recipes for homemade treats. I used to make banana muffins, but with the price of bananas in Australia at the moment, well, I am not going to hock my heirlooms for the sake of a peer approved morning tea!
Better fall back on the old favourite, Anzac biscuits.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Salmon rissoles, broccoli and carrot in cheese sauce.

Tuesday: Sloppy Joe baked potatoes, salad of spinach leaves, grated carrot, tomato. avocado.

Wednesday: Spaghetti with roasted pumpkin, pesto and fetta.

Thursday: Beef casserole, mashed potato and sweet potato, green vegies.

Friday: Lasagne, salad (cos lettuce, grated carrot, tomato, green onions).

I don't have to cook next weekend as we'll be off visiting family. The hardest part of my menu planning at the moment is catering for a toddler. He eats so well during the day, lots of fruit, yoghurt and cheese, wholemeal bread, but at evening he refuses dinner almost every night. I am not too worried, but I try to make sure there is one thing on the plate each night that he will eat. Even if he only eats grated carrot on some nights. All the kids went through this phase, and came out the other side. I just have to hope it doesn't last long. Don't forget to take a look at the other delicious menus at Organizing Junkie's blog

Other breaking news in our house this week: Our first lovebird egg hatched! Later on today, when I've bought new batteries for my camera, I'll try and take a picture. It's so tiny, the size of a baby's little finger!

Also: Joshua is on day two of toilet training in earnest. We have tried off and on for months, but he's been holding on tight to his infancy. Weaning took forever, he's been very insistant that he still needs his nappies, and let's not even discuss the empty bed in The Boys' Room. But yesterday he went the whole day with only one accident while playing outside, and even woke dry from his nap. Today I had to coax him back into his underwear, but the lure of a dinosaur print proved irresistable. I was thrilled when, this morning, he spontaneously hopped up and went to the toilet by himself. I am so proud!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

I am becoming food obsessed lately, I think. I am not persuaded that this is a bad thing. Pictured above are the remains of a Strawberry Sour Cream Streusel Cake, the recipe came from the September delicious magazine, and is a Nigella Lawson recipe. It was so easy to make, even with three children crowding our miniscule kitchen to watch. Hubby said it was the best cake he'd ever eaten, even better than the cheesecake from our local cheesecake shop. This is very high praise indeed! The cake is rich and buttery, and the layer of strawberry puree is sticky sweet. The perfect Friday night dessert after a very long week.

The butterrmilk roast chicken also turned out perfectly today. It was also from the Nigella section of the magazine. This is my modified version of the recipe:


2 cups of buttermilk
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
teaspoon of dried rosemary
2 tablespoons of honey
medium sized chicken, spatchcocked (as in cut the spine out and flatten the chicken)
salt and pepper.

Prepare the marinade by combining the buttermilk, garlic, rosemary, and honey and pour over the chicken. Cover the chicken and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (longer would be better, but I only had 8 hours). To cook the chook, preheat oven to 200C, and place the chicken on a rack over the sink for a couple of minutes to allow marinade to drip off. Line a baking dish with foil, put the chicken on skin side up and roast for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 170C and cook until juices run clear when the thigh is pierced. Allow the chicken to rest before serving.

This recipe would also be great on a barbeque!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Menu Plan Monday

Monday: Lamb Samosas (using up leftovers from Sunday's roast), green salad.

Tuesday: Spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce (packed with hidden vegies for my non-eating toddler)

Wednesday: Slow cooked beef casserole, garlic mashed potato, broccoli and carrots

Thursday: Salmon Rissoles, coleslaw, green salad

Friday: Buttermilk roast chicken, coleslaw, green salad, strawberry sour cream streusel cake.

Saturday: Homemade pizza - taco flavoured

Sunday: Homemade fried rice

It's school holidays here (spring break) and I have a little more time to spend on cooking than I usually do. It's amazing how much time the school pick up and drop off take! We don't have the luxury of school buses here. It's already Monday afternoon here, and I have the grocery shopping done. It was a challenge with all three kids, though giving the older two tasks helped. It was a surprisingly frugal shopping excursion. I can only thank the menu planning for that. I had an almost perfect list, and an eight year old determined to only purchase that which was on the list. He was uncertain at my spontaneous watermelon purchase "It's not on the list, Mum!" He was satisfied with the explanation that it will make a perfect afternoon tea outside on an already hot day. Now I am trying to coax them into waiting for afternoon tea time!

As usual, head over to Organising Junkie for more great menu ideas!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday Night Dinner
Pumpkin, Fetta and Macadamia Pizza.
This combination was a hit at our house tonight.
The dough was prepared in a breadmaker. While it did its magic, I diced a quarter of a small pumpkin and baked it for about 20 minutes in a very hot oven with a sliced red onion and a drizzle of macadamia oil. I would have used olive oil if I'd had any in my kitchen.
To construct the pizzas I halved the dough and rolled out each half. For the children, I first added a little grated cheese (to hold the other toppings on), then the pumpkin mix, a little fresh thyme and lots more cheese.
The adult pizzza was a little more special, with a little grated cheese, followed by the pumpkin, coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, crumbled fetta cheese and fresh thyme.
This all went in the oven until the crust was cooked, and devoured with frightening rapidity.
I must never ever forget this combination ... it was soooo good!

Friday, September 22, 2006

This is the fabulous quilt my mother in law created for Joshua. She is so talented! All this was done in a Winnebago as they toured around Australia. I just love that she's made the Mum's Taxi look like our car. Joshua loves it, and we are using it to lure him out of our bed and into his own.
Here's a picture of the full quilt. See how green our grass / clover patch is compared with the inland!