Saturday, August 30, 2008

Party prep..

Twas the night before the party ... and Mummy was sitting down exhausted lol!

Billy's birthday party is tomorrow and I'm about as ready as I'm going to get. (Apart from a missing bag of groceries that I'm hoping is in the car somewhere!)

The cake is iced, ready for Billy to decorate tomorrow, carpets vacuumed, rooms tidied, floors mopped. In a way I like getting ready for his party - it's a lot of work, but at least the whole house looks clean & tidy - inside & out - at once! It's not something that happens often!

We have 50 people coming - it sounds a lot but it's mostly family & a few friends. Pete is one of 4 kids and each sibling has between 1 and 3 children, so that makes up the bulk of it!

The weather of course has decided to be difficult with a forecast of "Numerous Showers. Mostly Cloudy. Mild." That is better than the "Heavy rain" that was Sunday's forecast a couple of days ago!

I think next year I'm going to have to quarantine Billy for a month before his birthday - after last year's high temperatures and the year before's ear infection and ruptured eardrum! He has been absolutely fine for weeks - and woke up this morning with a cough & cold. I've had him on Vitamin C tablets today but he seemed to be running a slight temperature tonight - I've dosed him up with cough mixture and sent him for an early night. Hopefully a good night's sleep will do the trick. Hopefully we all get a good night's sleep!

Speaking of which - this little duck is off to bed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy birthday Billy

From this..

to this...

in 6 short years..

Happy birthday Billy!

(And yes, I am already regretting buying a keyboard with a microphone!!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I have just discovered that some work I spent several hours doing earlier this month has been overwritten by an older version of the file... It looks like it was overwritten a couple of weeks ago, so my backups all have the wrong version too..

I do at least have a list of the changes I made, but I still need to do it again and was already pushed for time with getting it finished..

I'll say it again - ARRRRRRGGGGGGHHH!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Menu Plan - 25th August

Notes on last week's menu:
The porcupine meatballs in the dreampot turned into one big mush of mince.. I was at work but by all reports Billy went back for seconds (!!) and I don't think Pete had much at all.. There was heaps left over - I had some on toasted sandwiches and used the rest in a shepherd's pie on Saturday night.

To use up this week:

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - creamy bacon pasta
Tuesday - Billy's Auskick presentation night / BBQ so I don't need to cook - yay!
Wednesday - Billy's 6th b'day! - by request - pizza & ice-cream cake
Thursday - osso bucco & mashed potato
Friday - pork chops, couscous & stir-fry veges
Saturday - Pete away - pasta or eggs
Sun - Billy's party at lunchtime so we'll pick at leftovers

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:
* have started sowing (since Crazy Mumma "made" me go and buy a greenhouse!) - won't get to any more this week, it's a busy one.

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

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rain gauge

We're learning about weather at the moment. It rained this morning, so I thought "aha - a perfect time to make a rain gauge".

By the time we finished making it, the sky was clear again! Have I guaranteed it won't rain again in the foreseeable future??!

(And yes, I know it doesn't look entirely accurate but close enough for our purposes! And yes, I probably should've cleared away the cobwebs before I took the photo - can I say we're studying insects as well?!)

This is a really good website for younger kids about weather - I learnt all about clouds today :)

Interesting post on the disappearing family-owned businesses

I found this a really interesting blog post -

The author is talking about a Brit who travels across America trying to utilise the services of "mom and pop" businesses, not corporate chains. It's what I was trying to do in a much smaller way in my "no supermarket" challenge. I'd love to see the documentary or read the book.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Home school day - Novelty Olympics

On Monday we had our own Novelty Olympics with the homeschool group. What a lot of fun! We had 30+ kids competing in 4 age groups. Events included :-

Gumboot throwing

Standing high jump (how high could you jump to touch the wall)

Long jump

Sock wrestling (try to get the opponent's sock off)

Other track & field events (that I don't have photos generic enough to publish on the blog) included javelin (with a foam javelin), discus (with a lightweight disc) , shotput (foam ball), the hop, skip & jump, the frog jump, the side step and fencing (with pool noodles).

Relay races like backward running races, egg & spoon races, piggyback races, crab races.

Followed by a medal presentation for each event

And then some well deserved afternoon tea.

The kids had to take their score sheet around to each of the events while parents helped with the measuring and recording. Everyone also collected medals along the way just for taking part with words like "Awesome", "Stupendous", "Brilliant" etc.

It was a wonderful day - the organisers did a fantastic job. Billy really enjoyed the day despite a few tears late in the afternoon as tiredness set in. He was really chuffed to get gold in javelin & discus and bronze in gumboot throwing - I think he rang everyone he knows to tell them about his medals lol.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Menu Plan - 18th August

Notes on last week's menu:
A few substitutions last week. No new recipes.

To use up this week:
* pumpkin

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - sausage sandwiches
Tuesday - porcupine meatballs in dreampot
Wednesday - pork stir fry - use bokchoy & snow peas from garden
Thursday - crumbed steak & chips
Friday - fried rice
Saturday - leftovers or eggs
Sun - roast beef baked dinner

* I still need to make a pumpkin soup for lunches

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

Planting this week:
* need to buy potting mix and get started on sowing seeds

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

End of $21 no-supermarket challenge

4 weeks ago I set myself a new challenge - to stay out of the supermarket for the next 4 weeks.

"So my challenge is to not go to the supermarket for 4 weeks. I'll be using what I have at home, and if I need anything else I can only buy it from local shops. So I can buy from the fruit & vege shop, butcher, and the small independent servo."

Well I did it. And I learnt one big thing - they don't call them "convenience stores" for nothing! That was probably the biggest hassle - having to go to different places to pick things up. I hadn't realised how much I relied on being able to go to one spot to buy things.

So where have I been shopping? Lots of places:

* local butcher - as well as great quality meat, he also sells eggs from a local egg farm and bread
* the local service station - I was able to buy bread & potatoes there
* the Organic shop - for the very first time I did some shopping at our local organic shop - I bought some fruit & veges, and shampoo
* a bulk goods place - I stocked up on cases of tin fruit, tin pineapple, sugar and a big bag of flour (that didn't come out of the $20 I had!)
* roadside stall - I found a wonderful stall outside someone's home on the way back from swimming selling bags of homegrown tomatoes. They are so nice!
* community garden - I "rediscovered" a community garden in Maitland selling eggs and produce from the garden. We got 1 dozen wonderful eggs (you could see the chooks that they came from!) and a pumpkin. I had stopped there previously many years ago, but it's on a busy highway and it was too hard while Billy was a toddler to be juggling produce and holding on to him. It's a viable option now though.
* local corner store - snacks for our trip away.

I learnt a lot by doing it - I tried new places and found some gems. It was probably more expensive to do it though - I tried to pick things up en-route to other places, but there was more running around and the prices in small local shops are more expensive. I was supporting local business though.

I'm certainly not ready to boycott the supermarkets forever, but I will be changing the way I'm shopping. Doing this in conjunction with reading "Animal Vegetable Miracle" has really opened my eyes.

My next challenge is to try and ferret out as many local producers as I can - but I'll save that for next month. I have Billy's b'day party to get through first!!

Lemon cake recipe

Orange or Lemon Short Cake

CWA Esk Valley Cookery Book (New Edition) - no idea what year it's from

One heaped tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 heaped cup of SR flour
grated rind and juice of 1 orange or lemon

Beat butter and sugar, add egg, then flour, lastly rind and juice, beat well. Bake in moderate oven in tin.


Don't you love how old recipes are so light on instructions?! I guess everyone could cook then! I cooked it for about 20 mins in a 180 deg C oven.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I read a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction. I like to think I learn something from every book I read - yes, even the "trashy" romance ones!!

Every now and then though, a book comes along that totally inspires and changes the way you think about your life. "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver did that for me.

Subtitled "One Year of Seasonal Eating", it's about the author and her family's year of attempting to eat only food from the local area. Some of it they grow themselves, some of it they buy from local markets. Some foods they have to give up altogether! They live seasonally - eating what is in season locally rather than something that has been shipped half way across the world.

It combines factual investigations as well as anecdotes about their life and recipes but is a really easy read. The descriptions of their gardens, cooking and pantry were making me drool!! I'm now on my 2nd read before it has to go back to the library, and will be putting it on my present wish list!

I particularly liked the fact that I could relate to their family - they still ate meat, and they worked other jobs as well. "Real life" continued while they changed their lifestyle to eat locally. It's certainly given me a lot to think about and I've already started making changes to the way I shop.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Day in My Life - August 14th

Up about 6:20 (chilly with another light frost), made Pete's lunch and saw him off to work.

Checked emails & blogs.

Cooked Billy & I some breakfast (bacon, scrambled eggs & toast). Out in the kitchen we were being serenaded by both magpies & kookaburras!

Showered then usual morning routine of making beds, turning off lights, opening curtains, airing rooms etc.

Got snacks & drinks ready for swimming.

Went through some maths problems with Billy - we bought a whiteboard recently and he thinks it's so much fun to do problems on the board (weirdo!!)

Answered a couple of work emails.

Off to Billy's swimming lesson. I sat & chatted to one of the other mums while he had his lesson and then had some free play with the other kids.

Stopped to buy some tomatoes at a roadside stall on the way home.

Boiled some eggs up for lunch. While they were cooking I mixed some bread up in the Kitchen Aid, put it on the windowsill to rise and did the breakfast dishes.

Time Saving Tip - I prefer to make my own bread but sometimes the thought of measuring everything out and putting it together is too overwhelming (awww, poor diddums lol), so I reach for the 'cardboard bread'. Yesterday I got 5 big ziplock bags, measured the dry ingredients (flour, powdered milk, salt, sugar, yeast) for a loaf into each bag and stored them in the fridge. Today I just had to dump the bag of ingredients into the bowl, add oil & water and mix. Much easier!! (even if it is all in my mind!)

Had lunch - I sat in the sun & read a book for a while.

Checked emails & blogs. Printed out some Australian currency "play money" for Billy to learn with.

Cooked the bread, and mixed up a lemon cake while that was in the oven (the recipe was from an old CWA Esk Valley cookbook) - Pete got given some lemons at work the other day. While that was cooling, we went outside and watered the garden, then I did some weeding - I've saved one more hedge bush from the kikuyu that is threatening to engulf it!

We have berries on a few of our strawberry plants!

Fruit trees waiting to be planted

Came inside and had some very yummy lemon cake for a late afternoon tea. Pete came home from work in time to share it (must've smelt it!). Answered a couple of work emails.

Cooked tea (pork chops, mashed potato, carrots & peas). While that was cooking I washed the dishes that had accumulated since lunch (I swear they grow!)

Ate tea, with lemon cake for dessert (there is now only 1 tiny piece left!!)

Did some paid work searching for stock photos for a website.

Billy's bedtime routine - lots of stories & cuddles.

More paid work until about 10 when I've updated this post and now am about to head for bed.

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

Monday, August 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 11th August

Notes on last week's menu:
I missed doing last week's menu plan - just basically winged it for the week, which is not a good way to go! From the previous week - the sweet & sour sauce was quite nice, will use it again. The beef stew was nice but too salty - our bacon is quite salty so next time I'll leave the extra salt out.

To use up this week:

* roast beef
* pumpkin

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - snags, eggs, mashed potatoes & veges
Tuesday - some sort of stew in the dreampot (we're out most of the day and then I go straight to work)
Wednesday - meat pie with rest of roast
Thursday - steak & veges
Friday - chicken curry for grownups / nuggets for kidlet
Saturday - Pete not home - will just have eggs or pasta
Sun - roast pork baked dinner

* I need to make a pumpkin soup for lunches

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

Planting this week:
* need to buy potting mix

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

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Last night, in front of almost 21,000 people..

Billy and about 100 other kids from the Newcastle / Hunter region, played Auskick on the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground for the uninitiated).

The kids got to play a quick game at half-time in the Sydney vs Fremantle(AFL) match. What an awesome experience for them! It was a very long day though - we caught a bus down with the rest of his team at 2:30pm and they didn't play until about 8:30pm - Billy's normally in bed by then! By the time we caught the bus home it was 1am - *yawn*.

We were way over the other side of the ground, so I couldn't see a lot but the camera managed to pick up a few good shots anyway! They all seemed to have an absolute ball.

Oh and if you're curious - I think Billy's team lost by 1 point, and the Sydney Swans won by 4 points :)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Home school day - Chinese Day

To lead into the Beijing Olympics, today our homeschool group held a Chinese Cultural Day. Here is my little man dressed in a pseudo-Chinese costume.

The pants were my nieces karate pants from quite a while ago - the shirt was my creative effort on Sunday!

I took an old workshirt of Pete's as the base and cut a shirt to fit out of the material (keeping where the arms were sewn in). I used a pajama shirt of Billy's to trace around for the size, just adding seams. That was the easy part lol.

I'm not a great sewer, but I am amazed at the tips & tricks that are stored in my brain from watching my Mum - she has been sewing for a living since she was about 16. Anyway, I sewed it up - it went together *reasonably* well if you don't look too closely at whether the seams line up or trivial things like that lol. More importantly, it fitted..

Then I attempted to make a mandarin style collar to go on it - enter Google and I managed to approximate one! My main problem was that the back of the neckline wasn't quite round where I'd joined up a back seam, so it's pretty rough in places. But for a dress-up from a rather average sewer, I think it's pretty cool!

The buttons were from Spotlight - I went looking for those frog toggles, but when I found them I refused to pay $3 EACH for a dress-up costume. So these 'bamboo' ones looked good enough I thought..

So back to today. The kids dressed up in Chinese costumes, several of us organised Chinese activities to do (Chinese lanterns, Chinese calligraphy, making paper dragons, making a Chinese flag) that the kids all seemed to enjoy. Everyone took along a Chinese dish to share - the adventurous tried using chopsticks to eat with! We listened to a Chinese folk tale, listened to some Chinese music and the kids had a dragon parade with a couple of chinese dragons and the decorations they'd made.

It was a great day - rather exhausting to pack all of that into 3 hours - but a great way to learn a bit about China.

My camera batteries died before I took many photos, but hopefully I'll have some to share soon from one of the other Mums.

Next time we're celebrating the Olympics by having our own fun 'mini-olympics'!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Does this sound familiar to anyone else??!

I love this joke - does this sound like anyone else's life?!


Mum and Dad were watching TV when Mum said, "I'm tired, and it's getting late.. I think I'll go to bed"

She went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day's lunches.

Rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar container, put spoons and bowls on the table and started the coffee pot for brewing the next morning.

She then put some wet clothes in the dryer, put a load of clothes into the washer, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button.

She picked up the game pieces left on the table, put the phone back on the charger and put the telephone book into the drawer.

She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket and hung up a towel to dry.

She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk and wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled a text book out from hiding under the chair.

She signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the grocery store. She put both near her purse.

Mum then washed her face with 3 in 1 cleanser, put on her Night solution & age fighting moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and filed her nails.

Dad called out, "I thought you were going to bed."

"I'm on my way," she said.

She put some water into the dog's dish and put the cat outside, then made sure the doors were locked and the patio light was on.

She looked in on each of the kids and turned out their bedside lamps and TV's, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks into the hamper, and had a brief conversation with the one up still doing homework.

In her own room, she set the alarm; laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack. She added three things to her 6 most important things to do list. She said her prayers, and visualized the accomplishment of her goals.

About that time, Dad turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular. "I'm going to bed."

And he did...without another thought.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

To-do list 2-3 Aug

Thanks to the kind comments yesterday, but sorry to hear I'm not the only one struggling atm :(

Linda - I played a bit of footy with my son in the afternoon - hopefully that counts as exercise :)

Update on yesterday:

* Get meat out to thaw for tea - done
* Breakfast - done
* Shower - done
* Make beds - done
* Cook something for morning tea - done, sort of. Don't try to cook Anzac biscuits while busy doing something else - they taste quite disgusting when you leave the sugar out!!
* Give house a quick tidy - kitchen, loungeroom, hallway - Got it mostly done - visitors arrived early so wasn't all done, but oh well!
* Friends over for a play - done
* Lunch - done
* Answer emails - done
* Put tea in slow cooker - done
* Address B's party invitations - he hasn't finished cutting them out yet
* Post office - see above
* Make list of what I have to do and prioritise - made list, prioritised and also put an estimated time against each which looks like it will be really useful
* Have tea - done
* B's bedtime routine - done
* Start on priority 1 stuff - got a couple of things crossed out
* Go to bed by 10pm - got there by 10:15 - close :)
* Hopefully sleep! - sort of, it blew a gale last night so it was a disturbed sleep, Billy woke up at 6am so it was an early morning as well - I'm incapable of sleeping once he's awake

Now bear with me while I do another one since the accountability made me do more than I wanted to.

This weekend's to-do list (in no particular order):

* make chinese jacket?
* cook steamed buns
* find & fix Chinese dragon
* lock myself away and do some paid work - I'm up against a deadline and need to spend a good chunk of time on it without interruptions (Got a couple of hours done on Sat afternoon, so I think I have the back of it broken now)
* I think Pete wants to go and look at cars - now the van is sold, we want to sell the ute (affectionately known as the 'monster truck'!) and get something smaller. Not quite ready to do the 1-car family thing yet. (Done Sat morn)
* Usual washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning etc etc etc

I'm sure I'll add to it as the weekend progresses..

Friday, August 01, 2008

To-do list

I'm back in that horrible cycle again...

I've overcommitted myself in several areas, I'm not sleeping properly because I'm thinking about all I have to do, but I'm tending to procrastinate on it all because it's all so overwhelming.. I'm tired and have no energy because I'm not sleeping properly, so I tend to just read or
surf the net, rather than doing what I should do..

So my to-do list for today (broken down to very basics so I don't have to think) is:

* Get meat out to thaw for tea
* Breakfast
* Shower
* Make beds
* Cook something for morning tea
* Give house a quick tidy - kitchen, loungeroom, hallway
* Friends over for a play
* Lunch
* Answer emails
* Put tea in slow cooker
* Address B's party invitations
* Post office
* Make list of what I have to do and prioritise
* Have tea
* B's bedtime routine
* Start on priority 1 stuff
* Go to bed by 10pm
* Hopefully sleep!

Wish me luck :)