Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wholemeal Orange Muffins

The original recipe was from The New Muffin Cookbook by Family Circle and for Lemon and Poppyseed muffins but I think I have changed it enough to call my own! Obviously I used plain wholemeal flour with baking powder instead of white self-raising flour, I reduced the amount of sugar, I used yoghurt instead of sour cream, I used half poppy seeds and half chia seeds and I had to use significantly more liquid than the original recipe, 8 tablespoons of milk, plus an extra one of orange juice.

They are very yummy and very very morish! Luckily I made mini-muffins so if I *happen* to eat 3 or 4 while typing away at the computer it's ok! Making mini-muffins is great for the boys because I know they'll eat a whole muffin, instead of just picking at it in bits and pieces. They also take next to no time to defrost from the freezer! Great for sticking in lunchboxes for trips out and about or when friends drop by!

Next time I'll use some orange zest and just orange juice instead of the milk and see how that goes. I would have done that today except I'd already given Elliot the leftover orange juice to drink!

Wholemeal Orange Muffins

2 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
5 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup mixture of poppy and chia seeds
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup natural yoghurt
3 tbls orange juice
8 tbls milk

1. Mix flour, baking powder, seeds and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Whisk together eggs, yoghurt, milk and juice in a separate jug.
3. Add wet ingredient to dry and mix just enough to combine, it should be lumpy.
4. Divide mixture among greased muffin hole tray (I used 2 x 24 mini muffin trays)
5. Bake for 10-15 mintues in preheated 180 C oven or until muffins come away from sides of tin.

In the original recipe they were to be iced with a cream cheese icing, but I didn't bother and they were lovely!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Smug Satisfaction

In our house the rubbish is Matt's job. Pretty much everything to do with rubbish is all him, taking out the bag, putting the bins on the curb, bringing them in, you know the drill. Everything except putting a new bag in, why is that? (for what it's worth, we reuse plastic shopping bags to line the bin. I think we probably use 2-3 a week. We are always walking a fine line between having no plastic bags for the bin because I absolutely refuse to buy bin liners and most of the time take reuseable bags to do the groceries.) Anyway, I have little to do with the rubbish and that is the way I like it!

This morning however I made a mad dash out to the wheelie bin that was already on the curb, with the last bag from the kitchen. Monday is our rubbish day and Matt normally puts the bins out the evening before. He had done this, but hadn't taken out the last bag from the kitchen because we were up all night with a certain 15 month old who thinks sleep is an optional extra.

As I hurled that last bag in I had to double check that the bin hadn't already been collected. I looked across the road, bin full to overflowing. Same next door. And down the street a bit. The truck had definitely not come, but our bin was less than 1/5 full! The bottom was lucky to be covered! I knew we didn't make much rubbish, but until this morning I hadn't actually seen how little our family of four actually produces! I asked Matt later if today's bin was a 'normal' amount for us, his response "I don't know, the bin is always really light though".

Today was such a validation of one of the reasons why we choose to do what we do. Why making as much of our own food from scratch is a good choice. Why making many of our own cleaning products is a good choice. Why using reuseable products over disposable is a good choice. Why buying in bulk and choosing products with as little packaging as possible is a good choice. Good choices for our health, the environment, our budget, the education of our boys.

I couldn't help but feel proud, and a teeny bit smug! :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Downward Turn

Elliot is going through a funny phase at the moment of wanting to do craft/messy things, but then changing his mind about 30 seconds after we start. More often than not his changing his mind has to do with the messiness of the task. He's going through a "I don't want to get messy/sticky/dirty" patch. He likes the idea of playdough and painting and digging in the garden, but once we start he's had enough "my hands are dirty, I wash my hands now". So then everything gets packed up.

He also is not big into craft that needs him to create something from his imagination. He is very visual and has a fantastic memory, so once he sees something done one way, that is the way to do it.

For his birthday recently he received a great Thomas the Tank Engine Make and Do craft book. I'm not really into craft books, I'm more of a "lets just do it and see how it turns out" kind of girl. But it was right up his alley because all the ideas were there, along with stickers, scissors, textas etc. and a picture of what it needed to look like.

As has been the case lately, I set up all the paint and he did one brush stroke and had had enough. So I was left painting the box! The main thing he wanted to do (and kept asking to do) was the crunchy crepe paper bushes on top. I set him up with scissors, glue and crepe paper and left him to it. He had a wow of a time! This is a boy who loves cutting and gluing!

We're still not finished the tunnel, but we're on to the fun bit, more cutting and crunching and gluing bushes on the top!

I'm going to try and do some sort of craft everyday in an attempt to get him used to the messiness of it. I probably won't have much luck, but I'll have fun trying! In the mean time I can see lots of collage being made!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Homemade Spray and Wipe

I have been on the homemade journey for a while now and one of the first cleaning products I started to make myself was this recipe to replace commercial spray and wipe. To be honest, we never really used that much spray and wipe anyway, we'd usually just wipe the benches over with hot soapy water from when we did the dishes. Once Elliot started solids and there was food everywhere, some of which was sticky and gluggy, I realised we needed something that could be used more often than just when we did the dishes!

For most cleaning I simply use bi carb and vinegar but that was really not cutting it on the kitchen benchtops and I wanted something that was simple to use. Sprinkling the benches with bi carb and then spraying the vinegar is too much mucking around (not to mention difficult on a high chair)! I needed something as easy to use as the commercial stuff, easy to make, better on the environment, cheap and that used household ingredients.

After some googling I found this recipe but to be honest, I now can't remember where I found it. I wrote it down on a piece of paper that has been stuck to the noticeboard in the kitchen for about two and a half years. When we moved I packed it in a really special place because I have tried to find on the web since and have failed.

So, this is not my recipe. If it is yours, thank you for sharing it! If it is someone's that you know, can you let me know so I can thank them and give them the kudos they deserve. Other than that I'd like to share it with everyone so we can all be part of the home/green revolution together.

Homemade Spray and Wipe

4 l hot water (just tap is fine, it doesn't need to be boiling)
2 tbls cloudy ammonia
125 ml white vinegar
2 tbls bi carb soda
2-3 drops of essential oil (I use a lot more than this, just a good
glug of Eucalyptus or Tea Tree Oil)
2 tbls dishwashing liquid

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
Stir to dissolve bi carb. It will fizz up a bit so make sure the bowl is a bit
bigger so the fizz is contained.
Decant into bottles for storage and spray bottle for immediate use.

Use in place of commercial spray and wipe.
Will keep indefinitely.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Under Contract!!!

Subject to building, pest and finance ;)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Testing The Boundaries

Today has been a very trying parenting day.

We're all still a bit out of sync from a health scare of Matt's on Sunday night that saw him and I in the Emergency Room for a bit over four hours, and then me up with Archie until 2am when we got home. We had left both boys sleeping at home with Matt's Aunty, but he woke up at about 11pm and wouldn't re-settle. We got home at 12:30am to see Archie and Matt's Aunty reading books in the dimly-lit lounge room! Elliot slept through the whole thing!

So we had a quiet day yesterday (apart from some very exciting news that I'll post about tomorrow!). Matt had the day off and spent most of the day relaxing on the lounge. I did our usual Monday stuff, playing at a friend's house in the morning, home for lunch and sleeps, then a walk to the butcher in the afternoon. Archie had a terrible nights sleep last night, probably still getting over being up for 5 hours the night before.

So this morning I thought we'd all be refreshed and we headed off to music, our newly found Tuesday morning activity. The boys love their music time, singing songs, bopping around and playing instruments. After a 30 minute music session, morning tea is provided (for Mum's and kids!!!) and then the kids have a bit of a play. Well it all was going beautifully until playtime.

Elliot is having trouble keeping his hands off Archie, and not in a good way. He has never done anything super hurtful or mean, just niggly little squeeze here, nudge there. It is however enough to just plain wear me down. I've tried everything I can think of. We have ignored the negative and super-praised the positive. We've been super strict and called him on it every single time. I've yelled. I've spoken to him calmly. I'm ashamed to admit that I have even squeezed his fingers to show him that it hurts. All these things have done absolutely nothing.

At playtime today at music a few of the boys were playing on a little stage at one end of the hall, Elliot and Archie were both up there. Elliot and Archie were walking around together and El was holding Archie's jumper, they were getting close to the edge and before I could say anything Archie was over the edge! It was absolutely horrible. I yelled. Archie did the silent cry, you know, when they are in so much shock or pain that no sound comes out. I cried. Elliot sat with a completely stunned look on his face. Thank goodness most of the people had left and there were only a few friends to witness the debacle. Not one of my finest parenting moments.

Unfortunately the day didn't get much better. Archie has only had a short sleep, El no sleep at all. I had a fall carrying Archie and slammed my back into the handles of a chest of drawers. We had to go to a meeting at the bank this afternoon (with two tired, cranky, over it boys) and they ran riot. They were noisy, ignored all the toys and food I had packed and made it so difficult. When we left all the ladies at the counter gave us those "poor you, you've got horrible children" looks. So I got back in the car and cried again.

So now we'll have early dinner, early baths, early bed and pray that tonight is a good night, and tomorrow is a better day.

Oh, if anyone has any advice about El's little issue, anything we could try, please, let me know.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Musical Books!

For those of you who read my post Musical Dinners here is a follow on, Musical Books!

I've always wanted to join a book club, opening up to a whole new world of books and authors that normally don't cross my path. When we first moved I thought about it as a way to meet a few people but Archie was really dependent then, feeding every 1-2 hours, wanting me to be there all the time. Leaving him at a set time was just impossible as every day was different. The few times I did leave the house without him were completely spur of the moment and I spent the whole time watching the clock. One day I was so desperate to get my hair cut I rang the hairdresser and told them I couldnt' book an appointment but if they could fit me in right now I'd be there in 2 minutes. Luckily they could fit me in! Anyway I digress.

About 5 months ago, Archie was finally in a much more predictable routine and in a moment of pure serendipity the library posted a sign about starting new book clubs! Yipee! I chose to join the evening group as I could leave the kids with Matt and have an hour or two of just grown up time out. As it turns our evening group has to be a 'late afternoon' group as we have to be out of the library for them to shut at 6pm so we meet from 5 - 6 which works so well as I generally get home to dinner on the table! Win win! Sorry, digressing again!

Anyway, we've read some really great books, and so far, one dud. But that is the luck of the draw. We meet on the last Wednesday of the month, so have a month to read the allocated book. I generally give myself the last two weeks before the meeting to read the book club book, and read a book of my own choosing for the rest of the month. Herein lies the musical book issue. If I'm not finished my 'personal reading' book, I have to put it down, read the bookclub book and then take it up again when I'm finished bookclub!

I haven't found it to be too much of an issue, except at the moment my 'personal' book is Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and it's taking me an age to finish. I really enjoy it while I'm reading it, but I'm not overly drawn to read it, if that makes sense. You know when a book just captivates you and it's all you can think about, all you can do to stop yourself snatching a moment here or there to get another paragraph read. I think I've read three bookclub books all while having Mansfield Park on the backburner. I've just finished the bookclub book for this month and I read it in about 4 days. It was fantastic, but I'll do a separate post on it later.

So, I'm back to Mansfield Park. I've got a while before I'll have to put it down for the next bookclub read, please let me have finished it by then!!!

Oh as an aside, about joining to meet people ... I'm the youngest of our group of five by about 30 years! So if you live around Maryborough and feel like joining a book club, let me know!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sliding Good Fun!!!

At the moment I have two boys who are incredibly clingy.

I know what Archie's caper is, he has cut at least two eye teeth over the past few days. The bottom pair are definitely through although I have no idea about the top pair, I'm not game to put my finger in his bitey little mouth! As a result he is sleeping better (go figure?) but so incredibly clingy through the day. If his feet are touching the ground we're doing well. If they're touching the ground and he's not crying it's even better! Most of the time he's been in the Ergo (a.k.a. my lifesaver) or I've just been carrying him around. Not very conducive to getting stuff done, but it seems to be a bit of a 'go with the flow' week.

Elliot's clinginess, on the other hand, is a complete mystery. The optimist in me is hoping it's just a phase and he'll grow out of it soon. The pessimist in me is imagining the years ahead being a torrent of tears and tantrums, full of wanting me there, but not wanting me to do anything in particular. It's tiring to say the least!

After rearranging all the toys today we HAD to get out of the house and into the backyard. Unfortunately our house is not conducive to outside play so it can seem like a bit of a mission. I'd love to be able to open a door and let the boys run wild, but in a highset house on a busy road with bad fencing it is just not an option. So this afternoon we went and just played, no gardening, watering, washing. Just playing. And it was so much fun! Both boys love a slide and luckily we have two! They were having race after race so I was able to just sit on the grass and take photos! It was exactly what I needed after a clingy day!

Elliot is very interested in taking photos at the moment. Unfortunately his hands are a bit too small to manipulate our big DSLR camera. This was his attempt at capturing the potato patch. Not a bad shot of his boot!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Musical Dinners

As I'm sure many of you know I love Menu Planning! I love planning our meals, lunches, any extra things to make in the kitchen. I love making lists. I love paging through my many cookbooks hunting for ideas and inspiration. I even love grocery shopping!

Sometimes though, I chuck it all in and think 'stuff it, I can't be bothered tonight!' and tonight was one of those nights. I had planned to make chicken schnitzels, the whole box and dice. Walking to the butcher to buy chicken. Pounding chicken. Making bread crumbs. Crumbing chicken. You know the drill: flour, egg, crumbs. Repeat.

Today was the first day since Mum and Dad had gone home so we all felt that their presence was missing. El was a little off, Archie was tired and clingy. We went to music, which both the boys love and the plan was to go for a walk to buy the chicken after Archie had a sleep. Well, he slept for almost two hours (unheard of for him!) and then I was on the phone to a lovely friend for three quarters of an hour (she had a car accident this morning, luckily both her and her gorgeous son are ok, but the car isn't!). We were going to have a play at a friend's house at 3, so the trip to the butcher just wasn't going to fit in around everything today. Not to mention actually making everything with two boys worn out from playing with some little friends all afternoon!

Luckily I keep a stock of meals in the freezer for such days as today! Whenever I make a pasta sauce, casserole, curry, soup or anything that will freeze I always make a double or triple batch and keep it in meal size portions in the freezer. All that needs to be done then is pop some veg on, or boil up some rice or pasta. It is so easy and just as yummy as a slaved-over dinner! It also goes without saying that it is far cheaper, yummier and healthier than take-away too!

So tonight we had pasta bolognese from the freezer. Matt had to stop and buy pasta (it's on the list to make tomorrow). But speaking of tomorrow, Matt just remembered that he has to go down to Brisbane for the day (a 3.5hr drive each way) so he'll be leaving really early and home really late. I'll probably give the boys something easy for dinner and then Matt and I can have something special once he's home and settled and the boys are asleep. We'll probably have the laksa I had planned for this coming weekend.

So this week we're playing Musical Dinners.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our Week in Short

We have just waved off Nan and Pop after a wonderful week with Nan and a wonderful long weekend with Pop. As always it was so sad to see them go but we will be down to visit them in a couple of weeks. And we have Skype in the meantime!

We had a lovely week. So here it is in short! The highlights and surprisingly, no lowlights! A whole week of no lowlights! Archie has even been sleeping really well! Not sleeping through mind you, but good for him!

* a great trip to the Fire Station with Playgroup. We went last year and Elliot was still talking about it a year later so I knew he'd enjoy it! Archie was big enough to get into it too this year, he does love a good hat!

All the children had a turn of the fire hose and getting dressed up in miniature Fire Fighter's hat and jacket.

* lots of time at home playing with Nanna! The books and puzzles and toys and games got a real workout!

* a trip to the local animal park when Matt took a day off work! The boys had a great time patting joeys and admiring all the native and introduced animals. Elliot's favourite was the camel called Boris! Archie loved the emus!

El especially loved the guinea pigs and sat so patiently and quietly waiting for them to make an appearance. They were very timid though so the man lifted the lid on their house so El could see them! How lovely!

* lots of yummy cooking! The highlight was a special Roast Chicken dinner with Apple Crumble and homemade ice cream for dessert. Sooooooo yummy!

* a special 'second birthday cake' for Nanna, a double decker chocolate cake with ganache (homemade of course!)

* we think we've found 'the house' and will be going for an inspection early this week. It is vacant so we had a good wander around the grounds and peeked in windows and it looks amazing!

I'm looking forward to getting back into our routine this week although it will be a lot more quiet and lonely now Mum has gone home.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Wonderful Weekend with Family and Friends

We're back now from a wonderful long weekend away. We visited my parents for Mum's Birthday. One of the things we've really missed since we moved has been regular visits with my parents and brother. When we lived in Brisbane we saw them a couple of times a week, now it's a couple of times a month. Luckily in this age of technology we have so many ways of keeping in touch (Elliot's favourite is Skype) but none are the same as a good old fashioned face to face chat and hug.

We also spent a lovely morning with our old neighbours. We all have children similar ages and it's just like spending time with family! These wonderful women (and husbands and children) have been a wonderful support over the past few years, their daily friendship and chats is something I miss immensely. We all lived within a few houses and supported each other through the best and worst of times. It was so lovely to spend a few hours with them, sitting around the kitchen eating and drinking and listening to the children playing. Just like old times!

We are also blessed this week because my Mum came up home with us to spend the week! We didn't tell Elliot before hand and when I climbed in between the car seats in the back he was very excited to have me sitting next to him. He was even more excited to see Nanna get in the front! It was a wonderful moment when he woke up to see Nanna sitting next to him (we swapped places with about an hour to go, Archie was being a bit painful and just wanted me. He loved having Nanna sit next to him too!) Elliot looked around with his sleepy face, saw Nanna and just beamed. They have such a lovely bond, it's so special!

So this week there will be less posts. We are going to enjoy spending time with Nanna, showing her around the place a bit more and taking her on all our usual outings. We're also going to spend a lot more time house-hunting. We've found one we absolutely love so will take Mum out to see that for a second opinion.

Wishing you all a week full of love and blessings.

Vic xx

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

Let me preface this post by letting everyone know that I'm a Libran. I'm not super into star signs, but there is one trait that is associated with Librans that just is me ... indecisiveness. I can't even go out for a meal (or even coffee, eek!) without spending an absolute age reading and rereading the menu. Just when I think I've decided something else will catch my eye and then the whole process must be gone through again. Poor Matt has been good enough to even swap with me once our meals arrive if I have a last minute change of heart (or stomach!).

So I can't even begin to explain the difficulty of the decision that is ahead of us. The enormity is weighing on me, I'm spending every spare moment trawling the internet, googling (well, Google maps), going over and over the pros and cons of each option.

We're house hunting and it's driving me crazy!

In town or out of town? (this one was actually not too difficult)
A small house we absolutely love or a bigger house we like?
How far out of town do we go? Will people still visit us if it's a 20 minute drive?
Is more than a couple of acres too much to maintain?
Will one or two acres give us the space to do everything we want?

So far we've only inspected a couple of houses. One we were certain we'd make an offer on, and now some others have come up and we're not sure.

If Archie were letting me sleep, I'd sleep on it. Instead I just think about it all night, feeding him and trying to get him to sleep. At least its not keeping me awake!!!