Thursday, July 31, 2008

10 reasons why I love living here

We've been having lovely sunny weather outside at the moment. It's too nice to stay inside for long. Chicken no.1 has been out there making mud pies (I don't think she'll ever grow out of this!). I've been drooling over my two latest books: The Creative Family by Amanda Soule, and A is for Apron by Nathalie Mornu. In fact, my other knitting and sewing projects have been flung aside while I try out the amoeba apron - it's so cute! This photo appropriately shows chicken no.3's feet, as she's the one who pushed my book off the lounge and stomped on it - putting that large crease in the cover....

I've been thinking about how much I enjoy where we live, and so thought I'd share 10 of my thoughts on the topic:

1. We have an acre for the kids to run around in. And we have plans to make the land productive - fruit trees, chickens (the real ones, as opposed to the children ones..), etc.

2. We are out of town, but not too far out. Convenient for shopping, but out far enough for fresh air. And we can hear the cows moo-ing sometimes in the mornings. And far enough out not to get all the junk mail catalogues (apart from the odd farming one).

3. We can see the stars at night! Definitely worth noting, after having lived in the city for a while.

4. We had quite a bit of say in the design of our house, so it has some lovely passive solar features which keeps the house nice and warm in winter, but keeps the sun out in summer. You would think it's a fairly basic thing to orient your house to catch & avoid the sun at the right time, but so few people seem to do it. Not enough awareness? I don't know.

5. We have a study, and I can close the gate to keep the children out and my sewing safe! Very important. Perhaps I should have put that at number 1! ;)

6. We have a Spotlight store nearby (that's fabric & craft for those overseas). Very handy. Bunnings (hardware) is quite close too, which is good as we seem to go there on a semi-regular basis. Guess that's a new house thing. (By the way, toolboxes make great sewing boxes!)

7. There's a few nice quiet streets nearby for riding bikes. Hmmm, perhaps one day I'll dust off my bike and have a ride too...

8. Don has been able to hone his DIY skills - he's building our shed. Although perhaps present tense is not appropriate as he hasn't actually worked on it for a while. It got to that critical usable point then seemed to stall... I'm not criticising - trust me - I've got an embarrassing quantity of half finished sewing projects!

9. Don has a 5 minute trip into work. Very, very nice after his hour trip when we lived in the city. It means he's home early - the best bit!

10. We enjoy having family nearby. We have always had family nearby wherever we have lived, and are very grateful for it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Meatballs & knitting

We had a full day today. We had a trip to the newspaper office today with the homeschool group, which also included a trip to the printing press. Then the usual activities, and lunch with the cousins. Then this afternoon I managed to finish off chicken no. 2's scarf, and have successfully started my own scarf! (Watching those video's on has paid off - I didn't need to unravel it at all this time).

The mystery seeds chicken no.1 planted have produced one nice bush with beautiful pink paper daisies. I'll have to sort through my seed packets and plant some more, because the rabbits are slowly but surely destroying the bush. We have rescued some nice flowers from it, though. Perhaps we'll have to plant it inside the veggie patch fence to keep it safe next time!

Chicken no.2 has decided to ditch the training wheels, and with a replacement of his old broken bike pedals he's hooning around the back yard! It's nice to have an acre to ride around!
And would you believe, after so long of saying next to nothing, chicken no. 3 pronounced this morning "Mummy! I want bickie!" (That's short for biscuit, by the way).

And here is the meatballs recipe (we actually modified a rissoles recipe to get this one), as promised & requested:

The best meatballs ever:
For the meatballs:
500g minced beef
1 grated onion
1/2 cup (sometimes we use up to a cup) of breadcrumbs (none of that packet stuff - grind up the leftovers from a home made loaf)
1/4 cup white wine
1 egg (or more if necessary)
good pinch salt
some fresh chopped parsley if it's handy
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
flour for coating
oil for frying

Mix it all together and roll smallish balls of mixture in the flour, then shallow fry. Once they've browned, add the sauce to continue cooking.

Meatballs sauce:
A tin of tomatoes
generous spoonful of tomato paste (we use a whole 140g tin of it)
a good splash of wine
a dash of Worcestershire sauce

Stir the sauces in together then pour over the meatballs. Keeping cooking till the meatballs are done.
Great with spaghetti and steamed veggies.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

10 favourite recipe books

It's cold and windy outside (although not as windy as it must have been when the trampoline flew over the fence...), and I'm thinking of hot comfort food. Mmmm... and a hot chocolate and a good book. Sounds like bliss! So on that topic, here's our 10 favourite recipe books:

1. Jamie Oliver at home (he's also in love with his veggie patch, so that's extra points for him! I wish I could transplant his patch over here...).

2. My own little collection of recipes copied from everyone far and wide. The most commonly used recipes being spaghetti bolognese (red wine and Worcestershire sauce making this one a winner) and lentil soup (lots of bacon is the key)! Oh, and meatballs. I have the best meatballs recipe in the world! Honestly! I'll share it with you if you like.

3. Stephanie Alexander. A truly exhaustive recipe book including just about everything! I often make her apple crumble (minus the ginger).

4. Risotto (by Christine Ingram)-a staple in our family.

5. Moosewood Restaurant cooks at home. Lots of lovely vegetarian recipes, and the best brownies I've ever had.

6. 100 bread machine recipes. Mostly drooled over, not many attempted. I do love making sour dough (not in the machine though), but it doesn't always work I'm afraid. It's sooooo yummy grilled with parmesan cheese and herbs in the sandwich press..... Mmmm.

7. Friendly Food - from the allergy unit at RPA. Very handy for making things like mayonnaise without dairy.

8. The Family Circle Easy Menu Planner. Our favourite being Moussaka.

9. The Women's Weekly birthday cake book. Not that butter cake is a particularly thrilling type of cake, but all those birthday cake styles are very handy.

10. Indian cooking (Women's Weekly again). Mostly for drooling over, again, but we do the occasional korma or rogan josh (while the children have eggs on toast!).

I just about threw the knitting out the window today! I'm trying to get the hang of the knit and purl thing, and kept being interrupted by questions or losing count. After I unravelled the first 3 rows about 6 times I thought it best to lay it aside before I threw it outside in the mud! It was much more simple when it was just plain knitting! I now have a very healthy respect for all those knitters out there wrestling with jumpers and beanies and things.

On another note, our chicken no.3 has decided to expand her vocabulary from just 'no' and 'don't' to include some other words! Very exciting! We started to teach her some sign language (the Signing Time dvd's are brilliant), and it seems to have encouraged her to say the words as well.

I'll leave you with a (slightly blurry) picture of the lovely little Zebra Finches that visit us every day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

10 things....

I'll follow a '10 things' theme over the next week to give you an idea of what our family is up to at the moment.

10 of my current projects in no particular order:

1. Making fleecy animal-shaped heat packs to (hopefully!) sell,

2. Knitting a scarf for Nathan (which was going oh, so sucessfully until I thought 'Wow, I'm really getting the hang of this knitting business!' and now I have to somehow undo the last 2 rows - any tips, anyone??)

3. Growing fruit & veggies. We love our veggie patch. We've put a lot of work into it, and there's a few funny stories (like Don chasing after a bucking rotary hoe while I had tears of laughter streaming down my face), and there's currently more grass growing in there than veggies, but it's going to be great! I'm determined!! (Thanks for helping me weed some of that grass, Nicki!) We've also planted a lemon tree and lime tree which seem to be surviving the frost so far (unlike my poor old frangipani....)

4. Sewing a dress for my sister-in-law

5. Homeschooling: our current project is the Human Body

6. Sewing handbags. Just finished one for a niece (don't look, Mikayla!), and the next one is for my sister-in-law, to match her dress for the wedding.

7. Propagating plants from cuttings. Seems to be fairly successful so far. I lost most of the first round of daisies because I got impatient and stopped watering them because I assumed they were dead. Some survived against all odds, so I'm trying again!

8. Is it rude to put 'child raising' as a project?

9. Ok, so maybe 10 was a bit ambitious. Can I say going shampoo-free is a project? It was a walk in the park for the rest of the family, but I'm still stuffing around working out whether to use bi-carb soda every now and then, or just use water. (Try google-ing the delicate phrase 'no poo' if you don't know what I'm talking about)

10. The last one!! Umm..... oh yes, we're trying to set up a web page for our church. Don got interested in it and seems to have taken it over. (Which is very fine with me!)

Hope that's been insightful.

I'll leave you with a few photos of holiday fun while the in-laws were visiting last week.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My first blog....

I feel I should say something profound for my first post... I can't think of anything, except how I should be cooking dinner instead of staring at the computer screen! I hope this will be a good way of keeping people up to date on what our family is doing. And give you a glimpse at just how much sewing I do instead of housework... (I won't mention the cushion ties, aprons, and texta wraps I made today, and how the sink is full of cold washing up water from lunch time...).

A little glimpse into life in our house today: chicken no.1 has basically been drawing all day (except for a bit of maths work in the morning), chicken no.2 is running around with a 'gun' he made by clicking his textas together, chicken no.3 has taken the wheels of several toy cars, eaten some foam, and run wildly up and down the hallway all afternoon. And yes, I've been sewing and knitting and avoiding housework.

Until next time!