Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to exhaust yourself in one morning.

The easiest way to exhaust yourself is to have your two nephews over.  Four children, one 6 years old, one 5 years old and two 3 year olds with LOTS of energy certainly keep you on your toes.

I knew I had to be organised and have lots of patience (how do women with 4 small children DO this all the time!)

First up, we made pancakes for breakfast which were delicious and a big hit.

Then there was some tv time and play time while I cleaned up breaky and got some washing on.

I really should have expected a destroyed lounge room......

There was a lot of playing with cars, doing puzzles, colouring in and making cubby houses.

Then Nephew J (6 yo) wanted me to make him a paper airplane.

My first attempts didn't work properly so I got out my trusty laptop and found some fantastic paper airplane making sites.

We had airplanes flying everywhere around the house and yard (the sun was out by then so I could get the kids outside playing....relief!)

I then decided to look up some origami websites and found some great children's origami instructions.


I just made everything with plain white paper (because that's what I had) which we then coloured in.  The first thing I made was the cute little dog face above.

Then I made a whale.

Then it was little pig and rabbit faces.

Then a very cute little house.

I wish I could say it was much quieter after lunch when the boys had gone home but my two were so hyped up that it was an equally exhausting afternoon. 

The only consolation was that we were ALL tired (read.. grumpy tantrums) so it was early dinner, baths and then a nice and early bed for us all. 

The kidlettes were snoring by the time daddy got home and I didn't even stay up to watch any Wimbledon which shows how knackered I was!

Hope your day is a little more relaxing than mine, especially as I've just found out I'm doing it all again tomorrow!

xx Susan

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grocery challenge:: Week 3

So how did I go with my grocery challenge after 3 weeks?

Pretty good actually.  I've spend $79.15 out of my $80 so it's been another successful week.

I will also add that I'm not trying to see how much I save from the $80 each week as I'm saving plenty of money by just doing this challenge.  Maybe by the end of the 3 month stint I might be saving extra money but right now I've got plenty of things to stock up on to get me up to the $80.

I got plenty more fresh fruit and vege for free this week thanks to my lovely family and any extras I need I've been getting from one of the local fruit and vege stalls which are MUCH cheaper than the grocery shops.

I bought some meat that was on special and have some out for dinner and some in the freezer for another night.  I bought some more cereal, didn't even look at the biscuits (because I'm making my own), and spent most of my money in the aisle with the flour, sugars and coconut.

I also bought some milk, and of course some cheese.  We love our cheese in this house and 1kg was on special for $8.99 so hopefully that will get us through for another couple of weeks because I really want to buy some Parmesan next week.

I've got plenty of pumpkin still too so am intending to make a nice, big pot of pumkin soup today.  It's winter and it's raining, so it's definately soup weather!

Wishing you a fantastic day!

xx Susan

Monday, June 27, 2011

Citrus anyone?

We headed out to my sister Sandy's house the other day (check out her blog at Heart's Landscapes), to drop Little Miss R off who was having a sleepover. 

While there we picked some citrus as their trees are full of beautiful, juicy fruit. 

These are some of the orange and mandarine trees...

...and this is the fruit on the lemon tree.

This is what we picked off just two trees while we were there.

The blue bag above is what I brought home.  There are a few mandarins in there but mostly lemons because I decided to do this with them.....

I've zested and juiced two lemons at a time and put them into containers to freeze.  It's a perfect amount for lemon butter and tomorrow I'll zest and juice some more to freeze.  I'll now be able to make lemon butter all year if I wish because I'll have so many 'blocks' of the lemon juice.

I may even freeze some into ice cube trays or other smaller amounts for those times when you just need a little bit of lemon juice for cooking with.

Wishing you all a wonderful day.

xx Susan

P.S.  I've now got 10 blocks of lemon juice and still have another 11 lemons left to squeeze (even after giving quite a few to my neighbour!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 26, 2004

Seven years ago I pledged my life to this man.

Seven years, two children and plenty of ups and downs.

Here's to the last seven years my love and to many, many more in the future.

Happy Annviersary

Love You!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lemon butter (or curd)

As I seem to have quite a few lemons I decided to have a go at making Lemon Butter (or lemon curd).  I've always known it as lemon butter so that's what I'll call it from now on.

I used to love it so much when my mum made it but I've only ever bought it for myself.  Now I know how easy it is to make then I'm a bit upset with myself for buying it.

This is what you need...

* 2 good size lemons
* 1 cup of sugar
* 50 gms of butter
* 2 eggs, beaten

Zest or finely grate one of the lemons

Juice both lemons and add to the zest

In a double boiler (or a bowl on top of a saucepan) with simmering water in the bottom add the sugar...

... and the butter.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted.

Then you need to add the two beaten eggs.  I like to pour in small amounts at a time and stir after each addition.  You then need to constantly stir for the next 15 minutes or so until the mixture thickens to the consistency of honey.

Be careful not to let the mixture boil otherwise you'll get streaks of egg white through it.

Once it has thickened then leave it aside to cool.

Pour it into jars and ENJOY!

It's absolutely dELiCIOus and Little Miss R is a bit addicted.  In fact, I had to stop her from putting most of one of the jars on top of her pikelets for afternoon tea.  Not that I blame her as I was tempted to do the same thing.  :)

Enjoy your day everyone.

xx Susan

School holidays

It's the Winter school holidays which means I have three weeks stretching before me with both kidlettes home every day.  How am I going to cope?

I need to be organised and have plenty of activities ready for the kids so I thought we could do things like painting.....

...definately crafty things....

...playdough always keeps us occupied for awhile.....

...and if Mummy's feeling patient then we can do some cooking.

If it's raining and we need to burn off some energy then we can always have sack races around the table.....

...or play superheroes.

When the weather's nice we can burn off some energy at a playground..

...and there's always picnics.

Mummy is hoping that some of those activities will keep them occupied enough so I can get a bit of this done......

...but if it all becomes too much then there's always this....

Wishing you all a fantastic day, and if you have kidlettes home on school holidays too then I wish you all a happy time.

xx Susan

Friday, June 24, 2011

My little Crocodile Hunter

I'm sure you have all heard about Steve Irwin the 'Crocodile Hunter' who tragically passed away in September 2006.

We live only 3 kilometres from Steve's home of Australia Zoo and for years have had an annual pass so we can drop into the zoo for a few minutes or hours whenever we could.

Master M has been greatly influenced by Steve even though he wasn't even born when Steve passed away.  For him, Crocs are his favourite animal and his small crocodile would definately have to be his favourite toy.

As long as he has his little crocodile and some rope then he can truly be entertained for HOURS.  He loves his croc so much and LOVES watching Steve DVD's of croc captures that he ropes them up and jumps on the croc to subdue it. 

His sister and mother often get called on to help and have to jump on top of him to help him subdue the croc.  Once he's got it secured then he says, 'Ready, Set .......GET OFF!' and then we all jump off the croc so it won't bite us.

It's amazing how just one person can have such an influence over people's lives. 

Steve was certainly a very honest and passionate person.  If my son lives his life with as much honesty and passion for whatever it is he chooses to do in life then I will be a very proud mother. 

In the meantime............ I'll keep helping him subdue his 10 centimetre croc because that's what we mothers do.

Enjoy your day everyone!

xx Susan

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A happy shopper

After taking Little Miss R to school on Thursday's, I usually head around to my Mum and Dad's for a visit as they look after my nephew.  He's the same age as Master M and they get along really well so it's a great play day for them. 

I've mentioned before that my Mum always has something growing in her vege garden and as they're going away for a few weeks holiday tomorrow, I was given quite a few things that they had in excess.  With my grocery challenge underway, I'm definately not going to say 'no' to some lovely goodies.

I've now got some lettuce, tomatoes, celery, bok choy (yum:: stir fry), lemons and oranges.  I've got quite a few lemons in the fruit bowl now so I think I may have a go at making lemon butter or lemon curd.  It's not something I've ever tried before but I'm sure I can make it easily. 

The oranges are navels and they are the sweetest, juiciest, loveliest oranges I've had in a long time.  I'm quite proud of this tree because my husband and I gave it to my Mum years ago for a Mother's Day gift.  We thought she'd appreciate something for her garden rather than anything else and now the whole family is enjoying the fruits of this lovely tree's labour!

I also came home with a few more packets of fish.  My uncle went fishing recently and came home with so much that we are enjoying plenty of fish meals.  Little Miss R is loving it so much that she's asking for fish for dinner most nights, hence nanna sending home more fish for her little girl!

The last of my 'shopping' today is the only thing I actually bought.  Little Miss R's school was having a Market day where they had stalls selling lots of goodies.  There was plenty of fruit and veges available, as well as seedlings and lots of other garden things.

What I really needed was honey so was pretty stoked when I saw some on one of the tables.  It's a local honey that I got for the great price of $6.50 for 1kg!  It's the first money taken out of this week's grocery challenge money and less than I had expected to pay for honey.

All in all, I think a total price of $6.50 is pretty good to pay for my days 'shopping'.

Enjoy your day everyone.

xx Susan

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gorgeous Winter's Day

Winter around here certainly doesn't mean snow, blizzards and freezing rain.

We are blessed living in the sub-tropics with beautiful, sunny days that start off really chilly (been less than 10 degrees c overnight here) and warmish days.

I walked out the back about 7.30am and was greeted with this sky...

Not a cloud in sight and another beautiful day to enjoy. 

Yesterday it got up to at least 24 degrees c and I was way too hot with even a cardigan on.  They call this winter?  No wonder I love this season so much, the temperature is just right for me. 

I'm sure I've mentioned before that after being pregnant over Summer with Master M a few years ago (he was born in January), I really don't enjoy that season much anymore.  It's way too hot, muggy and icky.  The days may be beautiful, but when it's too hot to get out and enjoy it without being a ball of sweat and burnt to a crisp in a few minutes then I don't consider that too much fun. 

Bring on more days like this I say.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grocery Challenge

Can a family of four eat well and spend only $80 on groceries each week? 

I don't know but I'm certainly going to try. 


I've been inspired by the challenges that Sue at this blogsite has been doing lately.

I knew I had to cut down some of the 'waste' associated with my grocery bill so what better way to really challenge myself than to feed my family for $80 per week.  We still want to eat well (doesn't everyone!) but I'm really thinking about our meals and our snacks more. 

I'm going back to basics and making more of our snacks like biscuits and cupcakes.

I'm also fortunate that we live in a farming area where there's a wide variety of produce.  Right now there's plenty of strawberries, pineapples and citrus available cheaply or even free in a number of cases which is even better!

My sister has a number of orange, mandarin and lemon trees that are fruiting right now, my Mum's always got vegetables growing in her garden and we've got pumpkins growing aplenty.  All of that certainly helps because I've been doing this challenge for two weeks now and so far I've been doing well.

It's taking quite a bit of planning and juggling to come in under budget as well as a lot of making the basic things myself rather than being lazy.  That's probably not the right word because sometimes making the basics just isn't possible with the two kidlettes around.

So how am I doing so far?

The first week I went over budget by 25 cents with my total coming to $80.25
The second week (which I'm still currently in) I'm up to $79.10. I've got enough to get me through until Wednesday easily so I'll be under budget this week.  Yay!  Go me!!   

My 'week' goes from Wednesday to Tuesday as hubby gets paid on a Tuesday night so I withdraw my ration money on a Wednesday morning.  I originally decided to try this challenge for 3 months but then I realised just how difficult it was going to be and thought 2 months might be better.

That seems like a cop out doesn't it so I think 3 months will be the challenge period and you are all going to keep me on track.

Wish me luck everyone and I'll keep you posted on how I'm going.

xx Susan

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bring on the biscuits...

With my grocery challenge under way I've found that I'm doing a lot more home baking.  It's not only a hell of a lot cheaper than buying those sweet little treats but I've also found that I'm thoroughly enjoying it. 

The latest baking treat has been biscuits as we still have a heap of cupcakes in the freezer so I won't need to bake them again for another couple of weeks (I hope!)

I made the traditional Anzac biscuit on Sunday and making smallish size ones I ended up with about 50 of them.  Not that many made it into the biscuit barrel as quite a few went missing while they were cooling down.  Little fingers kept sneaking them away and Daddy was even getting little fingers to sneak some for him too!

I've also been having a go making my own cracker biscuits which are so EASY....honestly!  I made them for the first time a couple of weeks ago and as I had the oven on, I decided to whip up another batch and try to work on the flavour a bit. 

My favourite cracker biscuits are an olive oil and sea salt biscuit so after I had rolled out the pastry, I sprinkled it with salt, sprayed it with some olive oil then sprinkled it with a bit of paprika for some colour.  I then rolled the flavouring into it with the rolling pin, cut it up and popped the biscuits in the oven.

Voila!!  My homemade sea salt and olive oil crackers. 

They are a hit with the family, even more so than the Anzac biscuits which is a big surprise.

Enjoy your week.

xx Susan

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Super Saturday

Where would I be without my timer these days?  As Flylady says, "you can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes". 

I've been back into doing things the Flylady way this week and what a change it is making to my life!

Concentrating on one room or one area at a time, I set the timer for 15 minutes and go to it.  I get as much cleaned, tidied and decluttered in that time and once the timer goes off I stop.  It doesn't matter if I haven't finished as I know I'll get to do it another time but it's amazing just how much you DO get done in 15 minutes.

My house is looking so much better, I'm so much happier and more relaxed and have more time to spend with the kidlettes so they're much happier too.  Yay!!

Hubby is at work today so I decided that with both kidlettes home I'd just get a few basic things done which I thought would probably take me all day.  I had some washing to do, some general house tidying and I really wanted to get a start on tidying our carport area. 

I decided that 15 minutes at a time just isn't really possible with my two cherubs around so I cut it down to 7 minutes and decided that would have to do.  Wow!  I still got heaps done and it did help that the kidlettes decided to play with all the blankets and pillows in the lounge....

(they are in there somewhere)

...I left them to it and did a quick house tidy, got the carport cleaned, sorted through some photos and got some washing done.  None of it seemed to take me long and in between it all I still spent time with the kids. 

 By 9.30am I had finished nearly everything I had on my list for the day and it didn't even feel like I'd been busy.  So what to do now with the rest of the day ahead....

Time to look through my cookbooks and start on my menu plan for next week.  I've just started a personal challenge to feed my whole family for only $80 per week.  I was inspired by Sue from this blog and the different challenges she's been doing recently and also the fact that we really have to watch our pennies at the moment caused me to take action.

Last week was the first week and I admit I did go over the budget, by 25 cents!!!, so I thought I did well but I know I can do better.  I'll write more on this another day.

With plenty of time still left in the day we read stories, did puzzles and got the playdough out.

Things were made like snowmen or a snow-woman in this case as Little Miss R insisted that it have "big, pointy boobies".

 We also built some cubbies out of the myraid of blankets on the floor and went outside for some outside play doing more of this...

While the kids were happily playing in the mud (again), I decided to have a bit of quiet hooky time.

Do I continue with the blanket I've already started or do I start something new?

 I think I might like to start on a little something new using this completely fabulous yarn I aquired the other day.  Such pretty colours compared to what I've been using and it's making my fingers itch just thinking about getting in and doing something with all that prettyness....Bliss!

as it was I decided to continue with the blanket I'd already started on as I'll save the pretty stuff for another time (once I've worked out what I want to do with it!)

My sister Sandy from over at Hearts Landscapes came over for a visit so we could take some photos of her.  She's doing an art course and has to do a self portrait soon so I hope at least one of the photos will be good for her to use.  Pop over to Hearts Landscapes and see what she's been up to with her art, it's quite AMAZING.  I'm in such awe over what she has always been able to do and am now in even more awe over what she's creating now.

She also has plenty of citrus trees at her place so brought in a bag of freshly picked mandarines and lemons.  Yummy! 

 I've still got plenty of mandarines left from what my neighbour gave me the other day but his are a different variety and very difficult to peel.  They juice nicely though so I'll squeeze them a bit later or even tomorrow.  Probably later as I'm running out of room in my kitchen for them all!

Then my lovely Mum turned up with some fresh strawberries...

Some zucchinis and some fresh beans and snowpeas from her garden.  There was only one thing we could do with those vegetables....

...put the green veges in the stir fry I was doing with some carrots for a bit more colour and some yummy beef strips marinated in a teriyake sauce.  Served with rice it was absolutely delicious!!!!!

Then I did something that I don't do very often, I decided to make dessert.  There's so many desserts that I always seem to want to make but I never seem to get around to making any of them.

I've decided that on a weekend I'm going to start making desserts and last week I made a jelly and homemade custard which wasn't as much as a hit as I thought it would be.  I seem to have a son that doesn't like custard which I thought was a bit odd but that's my boy.

Tonight I decided to do a Caramel Self-saucing pudding which I got from the third Destitute Gourmet book and was a HUGE hit with the whole family.  It wasn't chocolate so I didn't know how Master M would go but he loved it too.

Such a delicious bowl of warm yumminess made from not much at all.  What's not to like!

That's pretty well been my day and it's been a much LONGER post than I had intended at the beginning but that happens sometimes.  Blame it on Flylady as I now get too much done in my 15 minutes at a time.  :)

Wishing you all a fantastic weekend too.

xxx Susan