28 January 2011

Back to Normal Next Week

I have high hopes for the next few weeks. The boys finally go back to school on Friday of next week and Little Miss starts kindergarten (preschool) on Wednesday. I will finally be able to get into some kind of routine around the house. I am determined to get things under control. I want an organised house. I don't want to rush around tidying things when I know someone is coming over. I don't want to be embarrassed when someone shows up without calling first. I'm hoping all that will come together in the next couple of weeks.

I'm still not sure exactly how I'm going to do things, but I know I am going to do something, and that has to be better than nothing. Right? Right!

I'll have Monday and Wednesday mornings, and Thursday afternoon to myself or get started. I think I'm going to use Friday as my grocery shopping day. It's always been Monday or Tuesday in the past, but I'm finding that we're running out of food by the weekend and then eating junk. I'm going to get more serious about my menu planning, too. I don't think we've stuck to a single menu plan I've done. We've come close a few times, but something has always come up. I'm hoping that that doesn't happen too often any more. I figure if I plan a seven day menu, at least I have all the ingredients for those meals, no matter when I actually serve them. At least, that's my plan.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Send me links, send me advice, you can get my email address from my blogger profile, feel free to email me :)

26 January 2011

Menu Plan Monday January 24th

Yes, I know it's actually Tuesday, but let's pretend I'm not late with this one. At least I'm doing it!


Monday : Lamb chops with scalloped potatoes and veggies
Tuesday : Homemade Vegetable Soup
Wednesday : BBQ with chicken fillets, burgers and salad
Thursday : Chicken Massaman
Friday : Take away
Saturday : Irish Stew
Sunday : Impossible Quiche Lorraine and veggies.

I've been cooking a lot more lately, but always in a rush and just forget to take photos. I'm sure I've mentioned that a time or two.

It's Australia Day here tomorrow, the anniversary of the day the First Fleet arrived in Australia in 1788. Over the years I've heard all manner of jokes about how we come from convicts, and it's true, but I love this country and I think we are so lucky to live here.

20 January 2011

The Trampoline Incident


Christmas has come and gone for another year. It was a really great one in our house, even if one of the kids is a little more clever than we were expecting. On Christmas Eve my husband and my sister's boyfriend put the trampoline together while we took the kids out for the day. In Australia at Christmas time, the sun doesn't go down until close to 9pm, so we had to bring the kids back here in daylight. 

We thought we had everything set, all the curtains were closed, they were going to bed early, the trampoline wasn't visible from the front yard or any uncurtained window in the house. Or so we thought. Little Mr. 6 is incredibly clever. We already knew this. Why we thought we could get away with this without him figuring it out or noticing is beyond me. 

We have a set of French doors in our kitchen/dining area. They lead out to the backyard patio. Our garage backs onto the patio and it has a window. Little Mr. 6 spotted the trampoline in the reflection of the window. On Christmas Eve. Gah. So, we sat him down, away from his bother and sister and explained that Santa had asked Daddy and Craig to put the trampoline together for him, because it was too big to fit in his sleigh. He promised not to tell his brother and sister and let them find it for themselves in the morning. I'm not sure if he bought it or not, but he hasn't said anything about it and he did keep his promise and didn't tell his brother and sister. His reward we being able to bounce on the trampoline first. He was thrilled. They've been practically living on the trampoline ever since.

In another note, I've finally removed my Christmas Layout. I was getting a little sick of seeing Christmas trees, even as beautiful as they were.

I've used more lovely papers and element from Kristin at KCB Designs. This time it's a set called Cherry Blossoms. I can't see it on her site, so it might be an older one. 

Another note, I made my Chicken and Bacon pasta again tonight and yet again forgot to take a photo of it.

19 January 2011

The Non-Sewer Who Sewed

I'm going to sit down tonight (if I can swing the spare time) and change my blog design. I am! Gah.

I pulled out a brand new doona (duvet) cover for Erin that I'd bought a couple of weeks ago for her to use on her bed for her birthday and the stitching was TERRIBLE! I can't sew. At all. I don't even own a sewing machine. I do, however, have my mother's old Singer sewing machine sitting in my laundry, and have done for years. It's been mostly untouched. The last time I pulled it out, years ago, it wouldn't work. It appeared to me, the non-sewer, that it had seized up, so I packed it back in it's hard cover box and never looked at it again.

Fast forward to the day of Erin's birthday, Jan 10th, and I was SO upset that her new pefectly pink princess bedding was unusable. I grabbed the $20 mini kids sewing machine I had bought for scrapbooking and making cards (I never used it, the box we stilll unopened!), and tried to restitch the seems. Well. That was a big joke. A really, really big joke.

I ended up hoping and wishing that the old sewing machine had somehow miraculously fixed itself. Guess what? It had, or at least my wishing and doing whatever I could think of (some of it probably not good for the sewing machine!) made it work. 

I channelled my inner highschooler and remembered how to thread the bobbin and guessed how to thread the machine and it actually worked. I practiced and practiced on scrap bits of material and it held together well. 

I can't sew a straight like to save myself, but Erin got her new bedding that night and I couldn't have been happier. Ok, well I COULD have been happier, the product could have come stitched correctly in the first place, but you know what? I felt really good fixing that. Dare I say I am considering making a few doona covers of my own. I'll wait until the school holidays are over, about two more weeks and then I'll pop over to one of the fabric shops and see what's available. Maybe. I might end up chickening out!

04 January 2011

Blueberry Pancakes


My Lemon and Blueberry Muffins were so delicious that I've got another hankering for blueberries. The kids love pancakes and because we're home for the school holidays, we've had time for more involved breakfasts than we normally eat.

The kids are loving it! Luckily Santa brought a trampoline for Christmas, so they're getting plenty of exercise to burn off all the extra deliciousness.

Blueberry Pancakes

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
5 tablespoons white sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Makes 18 pancakes.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. In a separate bowl combine eggs and milk. Pour milk and egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently until just combined. Mix in the melted butter and fold in the blueberries. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.

Pour 1/4 cupfuls into a fry pan prepared with non-stick spray and cook until golden on both sides.

Serve warm with maple syrup.

Menu Plan Monday January 3rd


Here's what we'll be eating this week if all goes according to plan, and it often doesn't!

Monday : Chicken Massaman Curry with Rice

Tuesday : BBQ - lamb chops, sausages and beef burgers with salad. (No, I won't be eating all that meat, but the five of us can't agree on which meat to have, so we eat take out pick from those).

Wednesday : Fettuccine with Chicken and Bacon

Thursday : Leftover Chicken Massaman Curry with Rice

Friday : Beef Tacos

Saturday : Cajun Chicken Salad.

Sunday : Fish fillets, corn on the cob, veggies and mashed potatoes.

No links this week, three of them are my own recipes that I don't have photos of at the moment. If I get a chance, I'll post photos and recipes during the week.

My plan with starting this new blog was to motivate myself to cook more. I have definitely been doing that and I'm having fun cooking again, which is an added bonus.

03 January 2011

Lemon and Blueberry Muffins

In the freezer section of our supermarket there is one freezer that only contains products on special. It's the first place I look when I go shopping. This week frozen berries were on special. We love berries in our house. I make delicious White Chocolate and Raspeberry Muffins that ususually go before I can snap a photo of them! The kids love frozen berries with ice cream, although they don't have that very often.

I already had a full box of frozen raspberries in the freezer, so we bought some frozen blueberries instead. Blueberry muffins here we come!

This recipe is a slightly modified version I found at Cooking on Clover Lane. We don't get half and half in Australia, so I had to find a substitute. I'm not sure what the original tastes like, but these were delicious. I also didn't have any lemon extract (and haven't been able to find any) so I used the lemon essence I had at home. I'm going to make this recipe again soon and use a couple of tablespoons of fresh lemon juice in place of some of the milk. 

Lemon and Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients 

2 cups plain flour
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup milk (just less than a cup, I'll explain further)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 190C/375F. My oven is fan-forced, I don't have the option of turning the fan off, if you don't have a fan-forced oven, increase the temperature to 200C/395F.

Line two 12 hole muffin tins with muffin liners. (I get 20 muffins from this recipe)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. 

Melt butter in the microwave in a measuring jug for about 15 seconds, add enough milk to bring it up to 1 cup. 

Combine the milk/butter mix, eggs, oil,  and lemon essence in another bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix gently until just combined.

Fold in the blueberries, taking care not to smash them up too much.

Spoon into muffin cases and bake for about 18 minutes. I used my #20 ice cream scoop to scoop the muffin mix into the liners and it made perfect muffins that didn't overflow in their cases.

Verdict - delicious! 

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