Saturday, May 26, 2012

there were five in the van: day five

Easter morning, so chocolate was the natural choice for breakfast.
Carrying on like a bunch of tourists. We travelled in CamperDan from our little powered site in the Skenes Creek Beachfront Van Park south along the Great Ocean Road to see the classic sights.

At London Bridge, Uncle Al told us about his last visit, which happened to be with my darling's dad. Apparently, they took advantage of the lack of safety rails, and dangled over the edge of the cliff. Crazy. I could barely contain myself, as my weird fear of edges started to get to me. Not heights, edges. And dropping things from them. Probably should have taken some kind of sedative, in hindsight. It was to be a big day of edges.
We stopped at the sweet little town of Port Campbell for lunch and a play. The boys had a play on a fantastic timber playground while I wandered the little market and bought a very lovely handmade beanie. At Port Campbell, I saw lifesavers wearing trackies. It's cold there. So we had some hot chips for lunch. You can see how awesome Eloise thought they were.

I braved more edge to see the Twelve Apostles. It was windy, cold, very busy and totally beautiful. My lovely new beanie worked a treat, as did my Close carrier, which enabled me to carry Eloise, snuggled in, whilst freeing my hands to hold onto railings in a white-knuckled fashion. Oh, and that family portrait was indeed the best one. From a series of sixteen.
We stopped in at Johanna Beach on the way back from the Apostles, so Surfer Mate could have a look at the alternative venue to Bells. I hung back in the warm CamperDan (fine by me!) as the small one was in need of a feed. We were treated with a gorgeous rainbow.

Our final visit was to be the Otway Lighthouse, but it was closed by the time we got there. Not to worry though, on the drive out to the lighthouse, the koalas were getting ready for bed. The first koalas I've seen in the wild! Completely unexpected, and amazing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

frugal is the new black

All the cool kids are doing it. Pinching their pennies. Watching their wallets. But I have gone hard-core this week.

On Monday, as I did the groceries, my rough calculations warned me that I was dangerously close to hitting the upper limits of our grocery budget. And I put a box of nappies back on the shelf. Three days later, and still recovering from the trauma that is next-day corn fiesta in a terry square, I am questioning my wisdom, just a little.

But the thing is, anything with a worthy outcome is going to require some work. I have been struggling for a while now with the value of my new role, at home, until I read some wise posts at Down to Earth. So, here I sit, in my place of work. I'm on my tea break now. There is a load of nappies almost finished in the washing machine. I'm about to make some chicken soup- the kids are a little snuffly and chesty. On Monday, when the big boy was tired after a night of coughing, I could call a pyjama day without calling anyone, arranging alternative childcare or eating into my sick leave. I can grab a few moments to sew some fitted nappies for my girl, which will be quicker and easier to clean than the terry squares, and less leaky, too!

So my frugal action this week is to return to cloth nappies. This will save us about $20 on the weekly grocery budget. Giving me more to spend on tim tams.

What is your frugal action this week? Add your post about it to the linky, and visit other frugal funksters for helpful hints.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

nourish: parmigiana bake

Grab the following:
A big eggplant
1.5 kgs chicken breast
some ham of your liking
olive oil
salt and pepper
a jar of pasta sauce
some grated cheese
 Slice the eggplant, season and fry in a little olive oil.

 Fry your ham in a little olive oil. I had bacon, so I used that, but I prefer the taste of ham.
Slice the chicken breasts into schnitzels, season and fry in some olive oil.

Layer the chicken, then eggplant, then ham, then sauce in a baking dish.

Sprinkle with cheese. Bake in a moderate oven until cheese is melty and golden and chicken is cooked through.

Serve with roasted steamed veggies, roasted potatoes, mash or salad. Whatever takes your fancy!

On the menu this week:
Leftover Extravaganza!
Chilli Con Carne
Beef Casserole
Chicken fajitas
Fresh Pasta
Beef Pies (made from the leftover casserole)
Roast at Grandmas (score!)

For lunchboxes:
Milo biscuits

Friday, May 18, 2012

found: lovelies for a littlie

Sometimes, you just find nice things, and get that surprised feeling. Someone didn't want this?
A lovely hand-knit.

Tartan. Smocking. Lovely. Will fit in a few year's time!
Hello, Little Red Riding Hood! With white pompoms, to boot.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

found: lovely linens

The irony being, of course, that I haven't set my table with a tablecloth in quite some time. Actually since downsizing to the little Ikea table and now with three small messies, never.
But I shall just bide my time. And keep gathering embroidered and lace-edged lovelies. One day I will serve tea and cake, on some floral mismatched nana china, on some lovely vintage linen.

Cuppa, anyone? Grab one and check out other finds, here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

nourish: easy-peasy banana bread

Easiest thing I've ever cooked. True story. Recipe from here.

1. Throw dry ingredients in a bowl: 1cup plain flour, 1/2 cup self-raising flour, 1cup brown sugar, 1tsp ground cinnamon. I used wholemeal plain and SR flour, and dark brown sugar, because that's what I had. Mix them together, breaking up lumps in sugar.

2. Mix the wet ingredients together: 2 eggs (whisked), 125g butter, 3 ripe bananas (mashed). At this point, you probably won't notice if you double the quantity of butter.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix.

4. Spoon the mix into a greased, lined loaf tin (11 x 21 x 6cm). Smooth the top, then whack it in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45-50 minutes. At this point, you will wonder why the mix is bubbling in the oven. It's because you doubled the quantity of butter. Goose.

5. Enjoy, warm from the oven with the cuppa of your choice. Mine this evening was chai.

On the menu this week...
chicken parmi bake
spag bol (already have the bol made in the freezer, score!)
home made pizza
pumpkin soup with homemade bread (thanks Veggie Mama!)
chicken laksa
tray baked sausages with potatoes and cherry toms (found on
homemade fresh pumpkin and spinach ravioli

in lunch boxes, and/or being scoffed whilst I hide in the pantry...
easy-peasy banana bread
100s of biscuits

Saturday, May 12, 2012

on motherhood

Becoming a mother changed me. Looking into the eyes of my bonnie, healthy babes makes me want more for the world, more from myself. I constantly wish I could do better, be more, give more generously. I think back to me, pre-motherhood. I am completely unsure what I did with minutes, then. I had so many of them, and I just wasted them! And to have been so emotionally cavalier...nowadays it is a struggle to read the news. The most shocking part of entering motherhood, for me, was how utterly unprepared I was, for the whole thing. For the breathtaking love, for the deep confusion, for the overwhelming protective instinct, for the involuntary guilt reflex, for the dark fears.

My first two pregnancies came and went without any celebration. I've always been wary of baby showers...something about counting chickens before they hatch...after having lots of difficulty conceiving, I guess I felt overly superstitious.

Preparing for the birth of our third baby, I had been attending prenatal yoga classes, where I had heard the mention of a blessingway as an alternative to a modern baby shower. With this being our final baby, I felt the time was right for a celebration of motherhood and birth. I invited my closest women for a simple gathering, a week before the baby was due to be born. I decorated a wall with photos that captured motherhood for me.
My mother, sister, mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law and dear friends shared birth stories- some I knew, some I didn’t. Incredible tales of love, triumph, loss and pain. I lit my large candle with my wish for this baby’s birth, and my women lit a smaller one, offering their wishes too. Later, they would each light their small candle, when news of labour arrived.
Each of these beautiful women brought a bead which, woven together, formed the most treasured necklace, to wear for strength during birth. Beautiful beads came from far and wide- a surprise package even arrived from my dear online friends overseas.
We each tied a red string onto our wrist, binding us together. The string would be cut with news of the baby’s safe arrival.
Everyone brought a plate to share, and this mishmash menu was a most welcome meal after such emotional outpouring.
Throughout the birth, and beyond, I have carried the strength, wisdom and love given to me on that day. A day of many blessings.

To the new mamas, mamas-to-many, grandmothers, and mamas-to-be: many blessings for mother's day. To my beautiful mama (that's her, in the photo up there, holding me), thank you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

in stitches: knitted baby cardi in progress

On a whim, I grabbed a couple of balls of wool and some needles in my local oppy last week. I am not a knitter, though my mum is. Memories of winter are always punctuated by her quick fingers, clickety-clacking away while we watched Young Talent Time or A Country Practice.

I scoured the internets for an easy pattern, that may turn into something my little one could wear. I have only knitted flat items thus far, so a simple-as-can-be garment is just what I needed. And found, with this sweet little cardigan pattern (free!) on the Mollie Makes website.
So with a free pattern, $2 in yarn and 50c in needles, I'm not all that concerned that I keep losing my place and messing up the pattern, or that I found the whole project on the loungeroom floor, off the needles, yesterday. No worries, I got it back onto the needles and it seems OK. And the coloured yarn is knitting up to look like a rainbow paddlepop. Fingers crossed I will have this garment finished before winter ends!

I took my knitting project with me to my little guy's swimming lesson this week. I didn't notice a little girl watching my fingers turn the wool over the needles until I heard her mum say "It's knitting- have a look, because you'll never see me doing it!" I laughed and told the mum that this is my first attempt at a garment, but my mum knits beautifully. And that I'm finding it very relaxing. Knitting as meditation?

Joining in the new-fancy-pants creative spaces here

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

there were five in the van: day four

Just a quiet day hanging in Apollo Bay. We wandered through the markets there, I bought a cool hat to keep the little one's ears warm, the boys had a big play at a very popular playground.

Then we set up CamperDan and CamperStan with our dear friends, and got the fire cranking. Can I tell you that corn on the cob, cooked any other way than in the embers of a wood fire, is deeply disappointing. And the boys are still picking up sticks and examining them for their worth as a marshmallow tool. And roasted chestnuts: not too bad!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

nourish: something from nothing

I've been really enjoying being more mindful about the food we eat, and how much we waste. I've been carefully planning the week's dinners, and shopping thoughtfully. Some leftover chicken legs from the party on Sunday gave me an opportunity to create an 'endless meal'.

Chicken leg and dead veggie noodle soup
Gently fry a red onion and a couple of cloves of garlic in some olive oil. Add some diced carrot and celery and soften. Remove and roughly dice the meat from some cooked chicken legs (I had six) and chuck that in, too. Throw in some finely chopped ginger, and whatever other veggies you have in the bottom of the fridge (I had some green beans and a corn cob). Cover with water, with a couple of inches of water above the veggies. Bring to the boil and simmer until the veggies are nicely cooked. Season well. Eat it like this, or add some flat rice stick noodles if your eldest pesters you for noodle soup. I also tossed in a teaspoon or two of Keen's curry powder, all casual like.

Yum. I made enough for dinner for the five of us, plus enough for some lunch for me and some warming after-school snacks, plus some to freeze for later. Love something for nothing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

a vintage tea party

venue: the CWA rooms
time: Sunday afternoon
decor: vintage tablecloths, borrowed tiered serving platters, streamers and balloons in pretty colours
menu: home-made party food (nana's sausage rolls, meatballs, little quiches, triangle sandwiches), veggie lasagne, Moroccan baked chicken legs, salad, delightful sweeties (grandma's teacup biscuits, aunty rene's slices, iced cupcakes and fairy cakes)
cake: lavender teapot with a rainbow centre
games: old fashioned fun (apple bobbing, doughnuts on a string, balloon races, pass the parcel)
attire: the birthday girl wore a mama-made dress


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