Monday, September 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 29 September

Notes on last week's menu:

Thai fish cakes were quite nice for a change - I'd probably mince the fish up more next time. Devilled sausages were pretty good - added to the list to have again.

To use up this week:
* silverbeet & bokchoy in the garden

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - ham & cheese quesadillas
Tuesday - honey mustard pork chops, mashed potatoes & veges
Wednesday - beef stir fry & rice
Thursday - hamburgers & chips
Friday - fried rice
Saturday - home made fettucine
Sunday - roast beef

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Eating from the garden:
* various herbs
* lettuce
* bok choy
* silverbeet

Planting this week:
* potatoes went in - yay!
* cucumber, pumpkin & zucchini seeds

See my "Quick Updates" over on the side to see what I've been up to in the garden lately.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The potatoes are in!

Finally!! I spent some time Saturday morning pulling the major weeds out and getting the watering system working again. It was quite a hot day so I waited until the afternoon when it was a bit cooler to swing the mattock and put the taters in. I'll do some major mulching once the plants appear.

And Pete has made a start on the 'fruit grove' - we're moving some of our existing citrus around and adding some more citrus & blueberries into more of a 'grove' type area (a la Jackie French)

Our week at school

Prior to registration I made a plan of what we're going to do in school for the rest of this year and next. Since then, I've been strangely dedicated about carrying it out! I've been much more inclined to have set lessons each day - only for about 30-60 mins / day. And so far, it's working well.

So while I'm being so "formal" with our lessons, I thought I'd use the blog to record what we're doing each week ... however long it lasts!

English: Still reading Charlie & the Chocolate Factory together, interspersed with other smaller books from the library. Pete & Billy are still reading The Hobbit together once a week. We haven't done any formal writing but Billy is forever writing notes & stories.

Maths: Leap into Maths Yr 1 workbook - Unit 7, watched Count Us In

Science & Technology: Weather unit - experiments on making fog & clouds - they kind of worked - but seemed to make condensation more than anything! Also filling out a daily weather chart (just the basics - ie sunny, rainy, cloudy). Watched 'Scope' about animation. Has been posting on his blog & creating pictures for it using Paint.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment):
Read a Japanese folk story and drew a picture about it. Read about the "Birth of the Earth" (big bang, volcanoes, what the inside of the earth is made of) and the "Changing World" (continental drift).

Creative & Practical Arts:
No drama this week, but he made a movie using the digital camera and his lego pieces!

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education):
Swimming lessons.

Informally, he has been building (with his grandfather's help), set up a drinks stall to sell water & milk to the neighbours (unfortunately we live in a no-through road and no-one walks past so it didn't really work!!), playing with lots of lego, a trip to the library, lots of inventing.. I'm sure there was more but nothing springs to mind..

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bringing back memories

Now that Billy is starting to watch some of the morning educational shows on ABC (eg BTN, Count Us In), it brings back memories of primary school for me.

I remember it being so exciting to be able to watch TV *at school*!! We'd all gather in the classroom beforehand, sitting cross-legged on the floor, waiting while the TV was wheeled in to the classroom, and the inevitable adjusting of the rabbit-ears would begin! I remember being able to watch the end of Play School before the shows came on. Then we'd get to watch the 30 min show like Behind The News (BTN) before returning back to our desks.

I'm sure kids today don't have that experience at school - they probably just watch them on DVD when it's convenient! As Billy is doing atm - watching Count Us In that I taped earlier because we were having too much fun outside...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I need another garden bed!

This is the main garden bed that was looking quite pitiful not that long ago - with the warmer weather everything has just gone wild! The main things in there are bokchoy, silverbeet, lettuce & a few beetroots. There are still some radish but I think they are so big now that they'll be quite unpalatable. There are also some self-seeded tomatoes in there.

I managed to squeeze a couple of mesclun lettuce seedlings into that bed today. I cleared out two of the styrofoam boxes - the one that had peas in it now has spring onion seedlings and carrot seeds, the one that had broccoli & cauliflower now has bloomsdale spinach.

I also potted up a tomato seedling and planted some more snow peas, planted the rhubarb that arrived in the mail the other day (hopefully it didn't dry out too much), potted up the comfrey and a bay tree cutting that my neighbour gave me.

I *really* need to start a new garden bed though because I also sowed the following seeds:

* capsicum
* eggplant
* chilli
* basil - thai & sweet
* oregano
* mini cauliflowers
* broccoli de cicco
* mini cabbage
* jaune de poitou leeks
* rosemary
* climbing malabar spinach

I have no idea where I'm going to put them all!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 22nd Sept

Notes on last week's menu:

Yakitori chicken was really nice & moist, and went well in wraps for lunch as well.

The devilled meatballs were nice but I was expecting something a bit spicier by the name - maybe it depends on what type of chutney you use?

To use up this week:
* silverbeet & bokchoy in the garden

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - steak & grilled vegetable wraps
Tuesday - caramel apple pork chops & steamed veges
Wednesday - thai fish cakes, bokchoy & rice (ss recipe) * New *
Thursday - devilled sausages with mashed potato & veges (ss recipe) *New*
Friday - pizza
Saturday - spaghetti bolognaise
Sunday - roast chicken

Only a couple of new recipes this week for Bel's challenge. I've also embraced Mrs P's idea to create a master meal list so have added a few favourites in that we haven't had for a while.

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Eating from the garden:
* various herbs
* radish
* lettuce
* bok choy
* silverbeet

Planting this week:
* potatoes - I MUST get them in the ground!

See my "Quick Updates" over on the side to see what I've been up to in the garden lately - which hasn't been a lot.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rural Fire Service open day

The NSW Rural Fire Service opened its doors today so that people could come along and see what they do. We went along to our local one and Billy was able to sit in the fire truck and operate the lights & sirens, use the fire hose to knock down a target, watch demonstrations of putting out grass & oil fires and learn a bit about fire safety.

The RFS is staffed primarily by volunteers with a few paid staff. While their main role is fire-fighting and helping in emergencies, they also have a role in bushfire management in NSW.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

History Curriculum

Now that I can breathe again, be prepared for a barrage of posts :)

One thing I've been meaning to blog about for ages is a world history curriculum I found. I can't remember whose blog I read it on, but a while ago I saw a link to this free world history study -

I was (and still am) totally blown away by it! There are a couple of versions available - one based on creationism, one on evolution. It uses books that are easily available as the "spine" - I've purchased 2 books as the texts and will more than likely get the rest from the library as needed. The main book we're using is the The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia Of World History - at the rate we're planning on going it will last many, many years!

The curriculum covers from pre-history through to the Roman Empire and Aztecs - the author is now working on the next one. It has lesson plans for 5 days /week for 36 weeks but is designed to be done however you want - we're working at roughly 1 lesson / week, so we'll be doing it for a while! My rough plan is to cover prehistory to the end of the dinosaurs this term, Mammals through to First Civilizations in Term 1, our own unit on Australian Aboriginals in Term 2, and Ancient Egypt in Terms 3 & 4. As I said - my rough plan! It may not work out that way!!

We're adding some of our own activities in as we go - beacuse I can never follow anything to the letter! - a couple of things we've done have been to make fossils, and to make our own volcano.

Fossils: Mix plaster of paris

Place feathers, shells etc into a container and cover with plaster of paris

Let dry, tip out, remove the items and voila - fossils!

Then when one doesn't want to come out, re-read the instructions and realise you forgot the layer of sand! Oh well, fossil in progress..

And then since the plaster is out, make a hand-cast!

Volcano: mix the dough with some friends

Mould dough around a small plastic bottle.
3/4 fill with warm water, 2 tbsp bicarb, a few drops of food colouring and some dishwashing detergent.

Add vinegar

Stand back and watch the lava flow!

The only thing I've found odd about the curriculum is that it adds in literature & poetry that don't seem to relate to the history in any way. The first one is "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" - Billy had just finished watching the original Willy Wonka for about the 10th time when we started so we're currently reading through that anyway. We may or may not do the others but there are some good choices there.

We're Official!

We had our visit for the board of studies inspector today to register us for homeschooling - and we succeeded! We've been given 2 years registration - the most they can give - so I'm pretty stoked!

I think he was impressed with what we've done and the plan I've put together for next year. On my part, I was really impressed with the inspector - he was very pro-homeschooling, seemed to really know a lot about it and was extremely helpful.

No more to say - just yay!! Such a relief!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Menu Plan "Monday" - 15th Sept 2008

Yeah yeah, I know I'm running late!

Notes on last week's menu:
The matriciana was nice (a bit spicy for me though - I'll go easier on the pepperoni next time!). I wasn't fussed on the texture of the mountain bread in it though. We had shell pasta with it as well which was nicer.

The sausage risotto was edible but I don't think we'll be having it again. It was nothing spectacular.

The burritos were nice - will be making this again. It was a good way to use up left-over meat.

The thai curry was nice - I put a bit of chicken in as well. Pete's opinion - nice for a change..

To use up this week:
* silverbeet & bokchoy in the garden
* roast pork

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - ham & cheese omelettes
Tuesday - pies / sausage rolls (I'm at work so boys have to fend for themselves)
Wednesday - yakitori chicken with steamed bok choy, capsicum & carrot (cook extra for lunches) * New *
Thursday - devilled meatballs from "Destitute Gourmet - stunning food from small change" *New*
Friday - pork burgers using leftover pork
Saturday - T-bone steak & chips
Sunday - roast beef & veges

Only a couple of new recipes this week for Bel's challenge.

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Eating from the garden:
* various herbs
* radish
* lettuce
* bok choy
* silverbeet

Planting this week:
* potatoes - I MUST get them in the ground!

See my "Quick Updates" over on the side to see what I've been up to in the garden lately.

Recipe: Mud Cake

This is the mud cake recipe I used (I don't think I've made this one before Bel, so I'm claiming this one in the challenge..) . It's from an old book called Eat GST-free by Sophie Ruggles.

Mud Cake

250g unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 190 deg C. Grease a large round cake tin well and fully line with greaseproof paper.
2. Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together well until creamy.
3. Add eggs and vanilla essence to butter mixture and mix together.
4. Sift flour, cocoa and salt into separate bowl, make a well in the middle, pour in butter mixture and beat together until smooth.
5. Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes.

Unfortunately I didn't get a photo, but it's a fudgey type chocolate cake - mmmm!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Day in My Life - Sept 14th

Ah, Sunday - always nice after a busy Saturday. It's also Pete's b'day today.

Even though I could sleep in, my internal alarm woke me at 6am - I tried to go back to sleep but ended up lying there thinking and planning. I got up at 7:15 when Billy came in "whispering" something about making a card - thought I'd best get up and see what he was doing..

I supervised the card making, read some email and then wrapped Pete's present once he woke up (the present was in the bedroom).

We had present opening and then a lazy breakfast (toast).

General morning stuff - washed the dishes, had a shower, made beds, put a load of washing on...

Each couple of months, Billy makes a poster of things we've done in that time period. He likes to look back and see what he's done, and it helps to reinforce anything that he's learnt. So I printed the photos out for Billy's poster and organised him starting that.

Put the load of washing in the dryer because a storm blew up while it was washing.

While Pete & I caught up on some shows we'd taped to watch, I worked on Billy's portfolio for homeschool registration (our appointment with the Board of Studies inspector is on Thursday). In between that was lunch (toasted sandwiches), more washing up, another load of washing, cooking tea and making a birthday cake..

We had tea (baked dinner with pork, potatoes, carrots & - from our garden - silverbeet, peas & snow peas) and then celebrated with mud cake (still warm from the oven - mmmm!) & candles.

After tea I quickly caught up on some blogs - I had over 70 unread posts to get through, so don't feel slighted if I didn't leave a comment on yours!

Bed-time for Billy about 8pm and the usual stories & hugs & kisses. We've just met the Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

I did the ironing and we started planning our trip away in November.

Went to bed about 10:30.. It was a quiet day, not overly exciting but productive.

For more "Day in my Life" stories check out Jenny's blog.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Soon back to regular braodcasting..

My blogging has been very sporadic lately. Hopefully life will return for what passes as normal around here shortly.

The last few weeks in particular have been very busy. As well as having to finish off a couple of big projects for work, I squeezed in a couple of urgent jobs to do with our local government elections, and lots of little "emergencies" that pop up with clients. Plus this is the 7th week in a row I've worked Tuesday nights - I've been teaching a computer class each week - one more week to go! That's been interesting - Billy finishes drama at after 5pm, we drive back to our town (45 mins), meet Pete along the road and swap Billy over then he goes home, and I go off to work until 8:30.. It throws routine out a bit and I'm glad we usually don't have too much planned for Wednesdays!

Of course we had Billy's party which took a lot of preparation (and recovery lol), plus I've been trying to get everything organised to register him for homeschooling now that he's turned 6. My paperwork is in, now the race is on to get his portfolio up-to-date before the inspector comes for a visit!

Add to that all of the usual stuff we do at home, with school, trying to sell the ute etc etc and blogging has been very low down on my list of things to do! Hopefully that will change in a couple of weeks, so please be patient :)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 8th September

Notes on last week's menu:
Last week was using up party leftovers so no menu plan!

To use up this week:
* silverbeet & bokchoy in the garden
* roast beef

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - mountain matriciana (mountain bread recipe) *New*
Tuesday - pies / sausage rolls (I'm at work so boys have to fend for themselves)
Wednesday - sausage risotto *New*
Thursday - burritos with leftover roast beef - based on this recipe *New*
Friday - Vegetable thai curry *New*
Saturday - fish & chips
Sunday - roast pork dinner

Lots of new recipes this week as I take on Bel's challenge.

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Eating from the garden:
* various herbs
* radish
* lettuce
* bok choy
* odd handfuls of snow peas / peas
* silverbeet

Planting this week:
* potatoes

See my "Quick Updates" over on the side to see what I've been up to in the garden lately.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

We were in the paper!

Great excitement here! Our local paper ran an article on homeschooling and we were interviewed for it. The reporter chatted to me over the phone last Friday and on Monday the photographer came out. You can imagine the state the house was in the day after Billy's party! I was still stuffing things in the dishwasher and cupboards when he arrived!

The photographer took about 300 photos while he was here - and *one* was in the paper! It *is* a good one though :) I'd love to get hold of some of the others he took, he showed us a couple on the viewfinder and they were great too.

Anyway it was a good article, very positive to homeschooling, so I was pleased. Billy was very blase about being in the paper - as he said to me "but Mummy, it's the fourth time I've had my photo in the paper!".. All at the tender age of 6!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Party review

I am still in the land of the living!

The party went well - it rained in the morning and for the start of the party, but it stopped just after lunch which meant the kids could go outside - much nicer!

I delegated my niece to take photos for the day so I only have one to share at this stage that I took before it all started. The theme of the party (as set by Billy) was an "Inventor's party" so here's our robot cake - I cooked, shaped and iced it and he decorated it.

As people started arriving, we had paper lunch bags for them to decorate with markers & stickers as their "party bags". Then we had various "inventing" activities set up for the older kids - making lolly creatures (joining together lollies with toothpicks to create creatures), decorating arrowroot biscuits with icing & lolly faces, making a catapult out of skewers, masking tape, rubber bands and a plastic spoon to fire a ping pong ball (this went over particularly well with the older boys - and their dads lol) and make anything they wanted out of the junk box.

Closer to lunch they also got to "make their own pizza" - mountain bread with whatever toppings they wanted on top. That seemed to go down well!

Once again, we had way too much food. Once again, I am swearing not to do finger food as it is too hard to try and heat up enough for everyone and keep it warm. I did better this time though - I preheated the meatballs & marinated chicken and kept it warm in the dreampot & slow cooker.

Overall though, the party went well. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and Billy declared it "the best day of his whole life" :) That makes it all worthwhile!!

I'm still slightly brain dead from tiredness though so not making a lot of sense!!