Monday, June 30, 2008

Menu Plan - 30 June

Notes on last week's menu:

We didn't get to the quesadillas on Wednesday night - I didn't make the tortillas. We had chili on Thursday night as the casserole. Nothing inspiring about the week except the Thai chicken curry was a perfect level of heat.

To use up this week:
* roast chicken

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - fried rice with leftover chicken & rice
Tuesday - maple-glazed sausages & mashed potatoes (in honour of Canada Day)
Wednesday - chicken & spaghetti bake & garlic bread
Thursday - blade steak & veges
Friday - hamburgers & potato wedges (in honour of the US 4th of July)
Saturday - Pete away - we'll just have eggs or pasta
Sunday - lasagna

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

Eating from the garden:
* spinach
* various herbs

Planting this week:
* pot out the almond tree
* do some more weeding & plant more herbal groundcovers

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

Clothes maketh the man

Billy finally got his uniform for the Auskick season (which is half over!)

Isn't it amazing how they suddenly look older and more competent when they pull on a uniform?

I'd like to say it made a huge difference to his skill level, but hey, baby steps, right?!

He still appears to be kicking with his eyes closed!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The fun of a big cardboard box..

Take 1 big cardboard box, a stanley knife and lots of sticky tape..

Add copious amounts of paint..

And voila - a personalised cubby house!

(And to think, some people just throw boxes out lol!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The lure of the shiny curriculum

Last week we spent a couple of hours at the home of another homeschooling family. They have a very different learning style to us, but we still get on well. We're eclectic, with quite a large dose of natural learning / unschooling, and they are following a classical curriculum and are a lot more formal (ie sit down from 9am until 11am or whatever and do 'schoolwork').

I have to tell you though, I was getting 'curriculum envy' looking at what they were doing. "Hey wouldn't it be really fun to read Herodotus in the original Greek??!" "Look at all of those lovely folders of work that they are producing, we don't have much other than photos and the odd worksheet to show"..

And so it went, round and round in my head for the next night & day. I was probably also swayed by remarks made by yet another family member that Billy should be in school.. "I'll show them, we'll produce so much work that they'll think differently". My head wasn't a happy place to be :)

My heart finally won through though - maybe that works for them, but at this stage, it wouldn't work for us. Give Billy something hands-on to do and he loves it, but not pages and pages of writing. I'd have to spend all day, every day haranguing Billy to do his schoolwork, and that wouldn't be fun for either of us. My aim in homeschooling is not to produce the very best educated child that I can, but to produce a person that is well-rounded, functions well in society, loves learning and most importantly is happy.

I'm still not quite over the internal argument, and I'll more than likely throw a few extra worksheets his way in the next couple of months before I settle down again, but for the most part I'm content with the path we're on - for now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Menu Plan - 23 June

Notes on last week's menu:

Spicy chicken burgers were quite nice - I didn't make them too spicy because Master B was eating them as well. I shaped his more like chicken nuggets so they were a bit more acceptable to him :)

We didn't get to the pork bami on Friday night - Pete got home late from work and I couldn't be bothered making anything new at that point so we just had pork chops & veges instead.

I threw a couple of handfuls of red lentils in the spaghetti bolognaise - no complaints so I'm not sure if they were noticed or not. I was quite .. um .. gassy the next day though so it's obviously a baby-step thing to get used to :)

To use up this week:
* I've been slacking off using leftovers again so have a bit of food to throw out :(

Menu Plan this week:

I'm not feeling overly inspired tonight so have gone for tried & tested recipes.

Monday - 'cardboard' fish & chips (I was in a hurry and it was far cheaper than take-away)
Tuesday - blade steak & veges
Wednesday - ham & cheese quesadillas
Thursday - some sort of beef casserole - maybe stroganoff?
Friday - thai chicken curry & rice
Saturday - home-made pizza
Sunday - roast chicken & veges

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

Eating from the garden:
* spinach
* various herbs

Planting this week:
* beetroot
* parsnips

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

'Instant' garden!

We had sunshine today for the first time in a week or so and I found myself out in the garden. I've been contemplating setting up a permanent raised bed for a couple of weeks to replace the styrofoam boxes.

The bed position I decided on is actually opposite to where the boxes had been - last week I was idly staring out at the yard visualising how it would look, and suddenly realised that where they were didn't get the morning sun. In fact after a couple of days of tracking the sun, I realised it was only getting about 3-4 hours of afternoon sun. On the opposite side of the courtyard it gets at least 6 hours sun, possibly more if I trim the grevilleas a bit - why did I not realise that before??!

So while Billy was playing in his cubby, I decided to just bring the bricks down from up near the fence - just to start. I found some cool interlocking cement blocks that we'd inherited from a friend when he dismantled his cement BBQ, and figured they'd be ideal.

Several wheelbarrow loads later, I put the blocks in place - too easy!

Meanwhile Billy decided he wanted a herb garden, and was adamant where he wanted to put it and how he wanted it to look, so I fetched the bricks for him and let him go. We spotted a couple of little brown spotted frogs hiding amongst the bricks - not sure what they were, but they were cute!

After lunch it was still nice & sunny, so we finished the gardens off. I filled my garden with a bale of mulch hay, a bag of (local) horse poo, and a box of worm castings (and some worms - I'm sure they'll be happy in their new home!) I threw a handful of old seeds in and will plant some seedlings in a couple of weeks.

I tipped some soil into Billy's garden, he spread it out, planted some herb seeds and sang to them :) I'm not sure how well it will grow since it's not in the greatest position, but he had fun.

My muscles are slightly weary, but it's the weariness of a job well done!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Oh yum! I made ciabatta today from Sophie Gray's "Destitute Gourmet: More stunning food from small change" book. It was sensational! A bit fiddly - you need to start the dough the night before, let it rest in the fidge and then finish it the next day, but oh boy, the taste was sensational!

A very simple lunch - fresh tomatoes from the garden, cheese on homemade ciabatta... A definite winner!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 16th June

It's been a couple of weeks since I've done the Menu Plan Monday - we were away one Monday, and the next was a public holiday. It throws me out of routine!!!

To use up this week:
* roast chicken

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - Sausages & caramelised onions on homemade rolls
Tuesday - beef casserole
Wednesday - Spicy chicken burgers
Thursday - Spaghetti bolognaise with fresh pasta
Friday - Pork bami with pak choy
Saturday - out, don't need to plan anything
Sunday - pork chops & veges

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

Eating from the garden:
* spinach
* a little bit of lettuce
* pak choy

Planting this week:
* beetroot
* cabbage
* peas / snow peas

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Day in My Life - June 14th

After a big day yesterday, we took it easy today - plus it was cold, so curled up on the floor in a blanket watching TV was as good a place as any :)

I woke up about 5:30 to Billy coughing in his sleep and then was only able to doze lightly until he came and snuggled with us about 7:30. He & I got up nearer to 8, snuggled on the lounge and read Green Eggs & Ham together.

I checked emails, made breakfast and then read some blogs. Jenny's post reminded me that it's the 14th so I quickly started logging what I've done.

Billy rang my BIL to wish him a happy birthday and chatted a while (thank goodness for local call rates, I'd never be able to pay the bill the way Billy likes the phone!). I loaded the washing machine with towels to soak for a while.

There wasn't much I could do inside because DH was having a sleep-in, so I wandered outside to check the garden and ended up doing a couple of hours weeding! I planted chamomile, and 2 lots of thyme where I'd weeded, from the herbs I bought the other day. I'm hoping to gradually plant enough groundcover under the hedges to keep the weeds at bay. Billy came outside for a while, alternated helping me & playing (mainly playing!), chattered all of the time, showed me his dancing, then he went back inside, and popped back out every now and then - to bring me a drink & apple for morning tea (sometimes he's so sweet!) and to tell jokes ("Why did the rubber chicken cross the road? Because he wanted to stretch his legs!").

I finshed weeding about 11:30 and came inside. Ate the apple that had been given to me "with love" and moderated some Freecycle messages. I started the washing machine going to finish the load that was soaking.

DH finally emerged from his sleep-in and started packing ready to go down to watch the Swans play (AFL). Helped him get organised and hung the towels out. He left - I *finally* got to have a shower, clean my teeth and make the beds!!

We had a late lunch of toasted sandwiches. I did another load of washing and hung it up inside because it was looking quite drab and overcast.

While I was eating my lunch, I was looking at the hydrangeas that need pruning, so afterwards I went outside to do that. I pruned a couple of them but it was too cold to stay out there - they were in the deep shade. I potted some cuttings - I'm very new to taking cuttings, so it's a case of trial and error. Nothing ventured, nothing gained though, as they say!

So I cozied up in a blanket and read my book for a while, then did some work on the computer - answered work emails, made a few quick site changes for clients. Billy was watching TV and doing drawings on his computer.

I went back outside and got the washing off the line - brrr! - quickly came back inside and snuggled under the blanket again :) I caught up on some forums and answered some more work emails.

Just Billy and me for tea, so nice & easy - we just had fettucine with cheese melted on top. I read my book, Billy watched TV curled up in his blanket. We read Green Eggs & Ham yet again!

Bedtime snuggles - another story (Magic Beach by Alison Lester) and a chat. Pete rang from the Swans game to say goodnight to Billy - he's staying at a mate's place tonight so won't be back until the morning.

I updated Billy's reading log (he's doing the Premier's Reading Challenge) and hopped into the nice warm bed with the laptop to write this. It's 9pm - I *should* be doing some work but I am really struggling to keep my eyes open. I think I'll read for a while and then go to bed.

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

A star is born?

Billy had his first ever drama concert last night - on a real stage in front of about 300+ people! It was the mid-year concert for their entire theatre company - kids ranging from 5 - 16.

His group (5-8 year olds) certainly won the "cuteness factor" award lol, even if the technical aspects like remembering what they were supposed to be doing lacked a bit. They had a ball though, so that's really all that matters!

The theme of the night was "At home" - his group's play was called Pillows. Half of the class were pretending to be a car that went faster and faster & then exploded until they all fell down and went to sleep, and his group were a washing machine that did the same thing. I'm not really sure of the reasoning behind it :) Then the car group got up to raid the fridge, the others woke up and followed after them and they ended up having a pillow fight! It ended with them all stating "At home I like to..." (Billy's was 'invent'), followed by them all saying "At home we like to dance" and doing a free-form dance. It was very cute :)

The kids had to be there at 3pm for rehearsal and the play didn't start until 5:30pm so I offered my help during that time if they needed me. I was asked to help supervise his class - so I was able to witness the chaos of the backstage, and the rehearsal. I wasn't expecting great things after seeing the rehearsal but like they say it was "all right on the night!"

It was good to see what the older classes did too - something to look forward to if he progresses with it.

We had a busy night - that finished about 6:30pm, then we had to go next door where we had tickets to "The Happy Prince". It was a puppet show based on the classic story by Oscar Wilde. It was good, not at all like what I was expecting, and I thought it was a bit slow in places for kids, but I enjoyed it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Book review: Intimate Secrets of a Flamboyant Gardener

I recently finished reading this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's written by an Australian author, Babs Corbett, and talks about all of the gardens she has lived in through out her life (all 90-odd years of it!). It intersperses amusing anecdotes about each garden and the people she met there, with practical gardening tips. Each garden includes a sketch / map of how it was laid out.

She mainly talks about trees, and flowers, not much on the vege side, but it's encouraged me to add a touch of whimsy to the garden amidst the practical side.


Speaking of the garden, I took a trip to the nursery today to buy some potting mix - ended up bringing home 6 herby ground covers (2 types of thyme, feverfew, chamomile, pennyroyal and spearmint) and a couple of flowering plants that Billy took a fancy to! Also some more seeds arrived from Diggers this week, so this afternoon we planted radish, carrots, wild arugula and spring onions.

The strawberry plants that we planted last week are going great - they all have new leaves on them and look very happy :)

I've added a list in my sidebar of what is growing in my garden atm and what we are eating from it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

"The best meal in 2008"

That's how tonight's tea was described by Master B! I finally got brave enough to make pasta! I followed Rhonda Jean's tutorial but made fettucine instead of ravioli since I didn't have ricotta. I made a tomato-based sauce to go with it - using fresh basil, oregano & parsley from the garden. Hopefully in 6 months time the entire sauce ingredients can come from my garden..

I made the pasta using 3 eggs & 2 cups flour - half the dough went in the freezer for another night, and the rest gave us enough for tea. I was a bit worried if there would be enough as my helper was eating it as fast as I made it!!


We spent Saturday up helping my MIL - my SIL & BIL had gone away for the weekend for a break, and my MIL scored looking after the 2yo triplets by herself! We went up for the afternoon to lend an extra few set of hands! It was exhausting!!


I cheated a bit and had my computer free day on Saturday instead of Sunday. No, I didn't cheat, it's called taking baby-steps!! We had about 4 hours in the morning before we left, and I kept the computer turned off - it was very hard. I even didn't check it when we got home that night - I was very proud :)

I've been doing quite well at staying off it, and have gotten quite a bit done around the house and garden in the 'spare time' I've found.

I've run out of time for Menu plan Monday - will have to do it tomorrow now.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The fine art of strewing

I love how learning happens when kids just follow their interests. This morning Pete & Billy were playing a quick game of the computer game Civilization (one of those ones where you build your own country etc). They chose Egypt as their country.

I "happened to mention" that we had a cool book on Egypt (a gorgeous book called Egyptology), got it down off the shelf and put it on the coffee table. A couple of hours later, Billy brought the book over to me and we had a snuggle while we looked through it.

At various other times through this afternoon, he looked up where Egypt was on the map (blue-tacked on our schoolroom wall) and looked at what their flag looked like (another poster on our wall). He just pulled out a ruler his Ma (my MIL) had brought back from Egypt for him with hieroglyphic characters to trace, and "wrote" his name in hieroglyphics!

Ah, the power of "strewing"!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Ouch I'm sore!

I spent a few hours out in the garden this morning - firstly weeding the area around the hedge (near the back deck), and then planting it with 40 bare-root strawberry plants! Oh boy I'm sore now :)

Strawberry varieties planted were Hokowase, Chandler, Kunawase, and Cambridge Rival (10 of each), purchased from Diggers. Billy was my 'helper' - he was in charge of watering them after I planted, and also putting a 'paddle-pop' stick in beside them so they weren't accidentally weeded out!

They should get enough sunlight between the hedge plants - the Cambridge Rival doesn't mind part shade, so I've put them closer to the bigger plants. I'm going to buy some borage and plant around them in Spring as well for pest control.

Close up of one of the plants - no idea which type went where though :)

Also the garlic I planted a couple of weeks ago is going great guns.

And my pea & snow peas have started to sprout - I haven't had much luck with them this season, so fingers crossed these ones do well.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Can I do it???!!

Back in January, I made a resolution to stop being online so much. It was fantastic for a few days, I did great for a few weeks, then started slowly getting back into old habits. Now, once again, I'm addicted :(

Hi, my name is Kerrie, and I'm an internet addict :(

I waste so much time sitting here idly reading stuff. Most of it is really interesting, even educational, but I can waste hours just reading stuff that doesn't really enhance my life in any way. Being away on the weekend was great with no emails - I was still available on the mobile if anyone needed me.

My big excuse is that I need it for work, but even when I'm on here for work I waste time on the net. I recently installed a Firefox add-in called Rescue Time that tracks the time you spend on the computer. You then categorise the sites you visit, software you run etc so you can see how you spend your time. Since I installed it a month ago, I have spent 184hrs on the computer - that's an average of 6 hours per day! Even more shocking - 61 hours of that have been spent under my "blogs/forums" category, 42 hours on email, and 22 hours on "random surfing" - visiting sites that I don't categorise under anything else. Only 23 hours were actually spent "working" (although some of the email time would be work emails). Not very productive :(

I'm trying to get up the courage to have a "no computer" day on Sunday - not turn it on all day. Boy it's going to be tough. But I also need to cut down day-to-day.

The things I tried back in January are worth revisiting:

* Keep a notebook beside the computer so I can jot down things I want to do / look up / write. This worked well - back to using it.

* Move my computer from next to the lounge (which is lovely & comfortable) to a desk (which is probably more ergonomically sound but not as comfortable lol) - this will hopefully stop me sitting down and staying there! Ooops, guess where I'm sitting atm :( Back on the lounge. :(

* Don't use the computer while I'm eating breakfast / lunch - a very bad habit I've gotten into!!! Did I mention it's breakfast time? :(

* Yahoogroups - I moderate / own a few Yahoogroups (LETS, Freecycle and related ones). Rely on other moderators more. I've really stepped back from this and other moderators are doing well. Yay for one thing!!

* Limit my time on the email, and also the frequency I'm checking. Need to get back to doing this, rather than checking every 5 minutes!!

* Work email - I removed my work email address from automatically checking in Outlook, so now I have to manually open it to check. I'm still doing this and it's great. I only check work emails a couple of times / day.

* Blogs / groups - Use folders more to organise my mail. May need to cull?? (eeek!) Have reduced the number of groups I was on, especially the really chatty ones, have gone no mail on many so I only check once / week.

Any other hints for how to manage my addiction? For now, the computer is going off until this afternoon..

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Motivational Quote

So now you get 2 posts from me in 1 day lol. This was today's motivational quote on my screen, and I liked it...

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew." St Francis de Sales

Eeek, it's been a week!

How did that happen?! - it's been a week since my last post!

I had a quite busy week last week with work matters - trying to juggle lots of projects again - and also with general family activities. We seemed to be out most days which I find stressful.

So, what did we do? On Tuesday I had a meeting with a client in Newcastle for a new project (Billy is quite good, he takes along activity books and things and keeps himself amused in a corner of the room while I'm meeting. I always explain to the client up front and no one has had an issue - they all think he's adorable lol).

We had time to kill between my meeting and his drama class, so we spent a wonderful hour or so at the beach - the weather was lovely & sunny, with just a hint of a cool breeze. We made sandcastles, Billy played along the edge of the water, we 'met' some Indian tourists walking along the beach (Billy got his photo taken with them for some reason!), chatted to a guy who was using his metal detector along the beach, watched the lifeguards on their jetskis, and waited for the tide to wash the sandcastle away. It was a very pleasant way to spend time! (Photos taken on my phone so not the greatest quality!)

Wednesday morning I spent some time in the garden - I pulled some carpet off the back garden where I was using it to kill weeds, and covered it with manure & mulch. Scared myself silly when I uncovered a blue-tongue lizard!!! I also spent some time weeding part of the back path - we have a huge problem with a plant I call 'sticky beak' - they are everywhere, and stick to your clothes, hair, skin :( They're also called cobbler's pegs, farmer's friend or pitchforks.

Thursday we had swimming, and then spent the day with my family for my niece's 11th b'day.

Friday morning was spent trying to tidy the house and then in the afternoon we met up with friends for a chat & play.

We went away for the weekend down to Sydney. Saturday we went to the Australian Museum to see their dinosaur exhibit.

It was pretty cool - I was a bit disappointed that a lot of the skeletons seemed to be casts rather than real, but it was still cool. We spent some time going through the rest of the museum too - since we were there and had paid a small fortune to get in! Someone was getting quite tired and bored by then though...

Sunday Pete & Billy had a "boy's day" and went to the Swans AFL game together, while I stayed in the hotel room, had a nap, and read some books. Bliss!!!!

Yesterday we came home, unpacked, did the washing etc etc. I'm a day behind now so no Menu Plan Monday, and straight into another busy week.