Friday, 31 October 2008

A Bit of Excitement

I got an email yesterday from my friend Rel. She wondered how I felt about having one of my reviews in 'Christian Fiction Online Magazine'. She had submitted three and mine was one they chose. I could give you a great long list of adjectives about how I feel. Excited and disbelieving would rate quite highly amongst the many!

So...from 1 November (I'm assuming that's US time), you will find my review for 'The Moon in the Mango Tree' featured in the magazine. I don't have a direct link yet, so you'll have to have a fun little surf through the magazine to find it.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

'Diamond Duo' by Marcia Gruver

Lovers of beautifully written fiction, you will find my review for 'Diamond Duo' is now up at Relz Reviewz. This is the first in a series, so I'm looking forward to reading more from Marcia in the future.

In The Garden

We were given some freebie organic vegie seedlings about two weeks ago from a local farmer, who is also a parent at our school. Yesterday I finally got them in the ground. In doing so, I found a new Jumping Jack's nest so I will need to find a vegie gardening friendly way to get rid of those nasty little critters.

Beans went in first. Perhaps too close together, but I didn't want to get close to the Jumping Jacks.
PhotobucketAlign Center

Then came the tomatoes. Apparently this are shrub varieties and do not need staking. We shall see!

Finally, the rhubarb. It died off at the end of last season and has come back with a vengence! I looked out there not 3 weeks ago and lo and behold look what happened!!!! It grows in spite of me or the lack of rain! I think I might have to make some rhubarb muffins for the weekend.


I need to go in search of zucchini and eggplant seedlings now...and whatever else I may happen to see that we like eating. I was so impressed with Kate's eggplants last year that I figure if they won't grow where I live, then they won't grow anywhere. There are commerical nursery growers over my back fence, after all!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Homemade Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream will, I think, be in the same category as homemade pasta. Very worthwhile, but somewhat time consuming. A special treat to spoil my family, rather than an everyday must-have. We rarely have ice cream and if we do have it, it's because Dh has bought it....not I, the family scrouge! So it was with a great deal of joy that we have delved into this little treat the past two nights. The kids have been so excited to have had dessert!!!

Vanilla Ice Cream

5 egg yolks
3/4 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or essence)
600ml thickened cream

  1. Combine egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Use an electric hand mixer and beat over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until mixture pale and very thick.
  2. Add 1/2 cup cream. Beat for two more minutes and remove bowl from heat. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining cream until thick. Combine the whipped cream with the egg mixture and mix well.
  4. Pour mixture into an airtight container and freeze for 6 hours until almost set making sure you leave room for expansion.
  5. Transfer mixture to a food processor and process until smooth. Return to the container and freeze overnight.
Makes 1 litre
You will find that the volume of the ice cream drops after processing, making me wonder if it would work to use an electric hand mixer for the second beating.

You can also add all sorts of different things to the ice cream when you beat it after the first freeze. My friend has given me all sorts to try: passionfruit & white chocolate, coffee & white chocolate, caramel, turkish delight & pistachio. The choices are only limited by your imagination.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Peach Clafouti

I made this again last night, because you need something to go with ice cream....homemade ice cream. Oh boy was it good...and so was the apricot clafouti ~ again! I'm really liking how simple this is and the fact that you use tinned fruit. The recipe calls for tinned peaches but any tinned fruit will do ... fruit in juice, pie fruit, whatever fruit you have or happen to love and whatever fruit you happen to have been able to get a good deal on. Of course, it will suit those whose children only eat things like ... mangoes.

Peach Clafouti

800g tin peach slices, drained
1/3 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons self raising flour
1/4 cup castor sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk*
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

  1. Grease a shallow ovenproof dish, place peaches in dish.
  2. Combine flours and sugar in a bowl and gradually stir in eggs, then milk and essence until smooth.
  3. Pour batter into dish. Bake in a moderate preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  4. Serve warm with cream or ice cream.
Serves 6

* I used about 1/3 cup less milk this time and found it cooked through better.

Monday, 27 October 2008

On The Table

I'm sitting here looking at heavy laden dark grey skies and thinking that yes, I'm liking what I planned for dinner tonight. My motivation was to save a lot of money on food this week ~ 5 week months are always a challenge. The weather has cooperated quite nicely though and we will enjoy cosying in tonight over a scrummy meal. I made ice cream the other night, so I'm thinking maybe an apricot dessert to go with it will top the meal off perfectly. Why apricot? We bought 3kg tins of pie fruit...I opened an apricot one the other night to make Apricot Clafouti. Boy was that good! We would normally make a crumble, but I had no coconut and from somewhere in the dark recesses of my memory I dragged out this idea. So so easy and quick to put together. I'll post the recipe tomorrow.

For today though, here's what's on our table for the week:

Monday: Roast chicken, potatoes, vegies
Tuesday: Ricotta gnocchi & tomato pesto
Wednesday: Chicken pie (or casserole), vegies
Thursday: Hearty soup, homemade dinner rolls
Friday: Hamburgers
Saturday: Singapore noodles
Sunday: Chicken kebabs, cubed bbq potatoes, salad

How am I saving money on food you ask? That roast chicken will do me 3 meals. With a size 20 chicken we have half the meat for the roast, the other half goes into the pie/casserole and the bones will be used to make the soup. That $10 bird will go a long way.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

When you
eat the labor of your hands,

You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.

Psalm 128:1-3

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Taco Seasoning Mix

It felt a bit ordinary, the wrong class completely to have nachos for dinner after having enjoyed an absolutely beautiful 'High Tea' with some wonderful ladies from church. We all agreed we should definitely make it a regular part of a yearly calendar. It was such an elegant, relaxing way to while away an afternoon. Oooohhh tea from a pretty china tea cup tasted soooo good! And the dainty bits of food were surprisingly filling when eaten so slowly. ~deep sigh~

So...taco seasoning. Yes. I was grocery shopping on Wednesday and the cost efficient nature within (read, stingy) had me investigating the back of the taco seasoning packet for ingredients. Once I got past all the added extra things, I came to the spices and herbs and scribbled them down on my trusty shopping list. This afternoon I remembered the long forgotten Tex-Mex mini cookbook on the shelf and went in search of a Mexican style mince. You know what? The recipe I found had the exact ingredients. I just saved myself 75c, as I have all the required spices in my cupboard! So for all you who want the spice mix without the added 'stuff', here it is:

Taco Seasoning Mix

1/4 teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

I browned and onion and some garlic as usual, added the beef to brown it. Then added tomato paste, the spices and cooked that out before adding 800g of tinned chopped tomatoes.

Our nachos have a layer of corn chips ~ plain or your favourite flavour, a layer of meat sauce, then top with grated cheese, diced fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce and a dollop of sour cream. You're right ~ there are no kidney beans in my mexican style meat. Mr Busy and the evil beanies, you know.

Everyone else really enjoyed it. For me it was very lack lustre after my oh-so-dainty lunch.

Friday, 24 October 2008

'Unwrapping Christmas' by Lori Copeland

You will find my review for 'Unwrapping Christmas' by Lori Copeland at Relz Reviewz. For a little novella that took me all of two hours maximum to read, it sure does give you a lot of food for thought.

Rel has also just posted 'our' email Q&A with author Sharon Hinck regarding her book 'The Restorer'. It was a fantastic book...face paced, intriguing, fantastical. I couldn't put it down and then devoured the first chapter 'teaser' for the next book LOL. I have the next two in the series on my Christmas list already...just in case Dh is after ideas ;) I really enjoyed the opportunity to have some interaction with Sharon, albeit distant. Rel goes to a lot of effort to organise these little extras for our book club and not without a little angst on many occasions. I for one (and I know I'm not alone!) appreciate all that goes into getting things like a Q&A with an author organised. Thanks so much Rel. You are truly amazing in what you accomplish and I am definitely on the receiving end of much blessing because of your efforts.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Plans Afoot....Address....A DRESS!

I am thinking that dresses will be nice and cool and perhaps a little more flattering than trousers for this summer. The other day I came across this pattern and fell in love with the E & K combination. The pattern is one where you can choose from 9 different tops and then choose a straight skirt or a fuller skirt. It will suit evening events, every day wear...whatever I can find the fabric to suit to an occasion I suspect! Well...if I can find anything worth making up. Why is it that Spotlight and Lincraft have huge amounts of fabric, and very little of it is something you'd actually wear?!

Now to get a hold of the pattern while Spotlight are selling them for $5.99 each. Yes, that's right!!! Burda, Kwik Sew and New Look are all going cheap until 2 November if you're a VIP member (free to join). Guess where I'm off to tonight?!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Hump Day

I love Wednesday's. It's the one day where I have nothing regular I have to do and nowhere I have to be. It's the day when I enjoy the memories of the preceding days and look forward to the ones ahead. Sewing...cuppa with other mums at school. Then the weekend.....with all its delicious possibilities. It's a day when I get to sit and read if I want to! You've just got to love a day like that.

What I am looking forward to this week? High Tea with the ladies from church. I've never been to High Tea, but I am certain it will be very special.

Lunch out...somewhere! Our church does a 'lunches in homes' thing where we get to choose to be a host or a guest. The hosts organise who will bring what to share for a meal. I was absolutely not going to miss out on an opportunity to go somewhere for lunch. It will deliver me from the monotonous ordeal that has become Sunday afternoon. "Can we go to someone's house?" ... "What are we doing today?" ... "Where can we go?" ... "I'm bored, let's go out" ... "Can we ring someone and see if they're home?" ... "Can we go to Pa's house?" (Pa lives an hour away!). Do you see a theme here? While I am more than satisfied to sit quietly and read a good book, or have a little snooze in front of a sunny window, we have three extroverted children who consider my idea of joy to be pure torture. Whoever imagined that you could enjoy being at home all weekend? Not my children! You might as well chop off a limb as subject them to that dull existence.

So I will enjoy my day today reading, getting some washing and vacuuming done. I'm going to pace myself quite nicely. If I need to I may even have a little Nana Nap. And at the end, I will watch "The Cook and the Chef".

Oh yes, I do love Wednesday's!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Racin' Forward....Lookin' Back

Such a late hour in the day to be posting! My girlie whirlies were at a school sports day, so I had offered to tag along and make myself useful. My girls' House one point! WOOHOO, go Yellow! Miss Sunshine shone her way through the day despite having sprained her ankle last Thursday. Miss Mischief is more like me I guess...but her triple jump record from last year remains intact.


For those fellow bookworms who stop by, my review for "Lookin' Back, Texas" by Leanna Ellis is now posted at Relz Reviewz. Rel has a give away both both US and Aussie readers. Since I don't have to compete to get a copy of the book, I can enthusiastically recommend you go to the link and post a comment. Make sure you tell Rel about a quirk you have and state if you're a US or AUS reader to be in the draw. Lucky for me I don't have to reveal any of my quirks LOL.

Good luck!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Monday's Munching Moments

I have to start off first with a bit of a Mummy Brag. Miss Sunshine is very excited and for good reason. She was one of the winners in a writing competition at school. So she a the very small handful of other winners (through both the primary and the secondary school) get to spend two hours with a local children's author. They've had their first hour and will do the second sometime soon. Whoever thought a little piece of homework could bring such wonderful rewards!

Onto the real reason for this post though. Food! Namely, this week's menu plan.

Monday: Pork with apple & celery, potatoes, vegies
Tuesday: Singapore Noodles
Wednesday: Pork meatloaf, potatoes, vegies
Thursday: Chicken & Rice Noodle Stir Fry
Friday: Homemade Pizza: potato, onion & garlic; pineapple, bacon, mushroom
Saturday: Nachos
Sunday: Soup & toast

Actually...Monday's & Tuesday's meals got swapped with some others from last we'll do the chicken wings & beef casserole from last week then. Oh well, that's the beauty of a menu plan. You can swap meals around if you need to and you still have all the things you need in order to make it.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Because He Loves Me

Lighthouse at Kangaroo Island, South Australia

""Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.
He will call upon Me and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.""

Psalm 91:14-16

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Learning New Tricks

Not sewing this time...and no new cooking tricks either. No....I've been learning lots of new things, or should I say re-learning things I've long since forgotten. It's an inevitable side effect of having children, and helping in their classrooms.

Mr Busy's teacher wants him to practice his handwriting skills. So he has a bunch of sheets to work through and we just hand them in as he completes a set. I've decided I need to learn Victorian Modern Cursive handwriting too. Given the amount of time I spend helping kids with spelling and language, it's probably way past time. So Mr Busy & I sit at the table, him with his sheets and me with some dotted third paper his Prep/1 teacher gave me last year and we practice together. My hybrid style of writing is nothing like the very controlled way the kids are meant to write! All those ticks and kicks on the beginnings and ends of letters.....whew!

I'm also relearning division. ~sigh~ I hated maths at school. It confounded me completely. However, second time round, as an adult it seems to be sinking in a little better. Either that or Miss Sunshine's teacher is just really really good at his job LOL. I must be more logical than I was as a child too, because I find myself able to work through word problems successfully. Perhaps a little late in coming....but I am getting there LOL.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Treasure Hunting

Something I love to do is poke through Op Shops (2nd hand shops). Over the years I've become a lot more intentional and focused in my op shopping though. After all, bringing home an armload of junk isn't really that productive...not when you turn around and throw it all away in the not too distant future! So I now have just a few specific areas that I poke through.

  • Kitchen Ware: I look at serving dishes, pretty dinner plates & bowls. Right now I'm looking for a pretty utensil holder. I've always hated mine ~ an engagement present.
  • Books: Recipe books are my vice. Specifically, Women's Weekly recipe books. However they are rarely found, as they are snapped up in a flash. I also look in the children's book section more now, to keep Miss Mischief's reading habit well fed.
  • Clothes: How could you not browse the clothing area? Right now I'm glancing at formal wear on behalf of Miss Sunshine, who will need a graduation outfit come December. I always look at denim skirts, shirts and jackets. Whenever the kid's wardrobes need a top up we start with Op Shops before heading to the local shopping centre. So depending on our needs, we also browse through that area too.
  • Sewing & Haberdashery: You never know when you'll find a magnificent offcut of something beautiful, or a jar full of pretty buttons....or the size crochet hook or knitting needles you need. Then there's wool for kid's projects and things like that.
What kinds of things to search for?

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Quilting Progress

Here is a picture of my quilt blocks thus far. The piece I have the blocks laid out on is the fabric I have chosen for the solid blocks that sit between the pieced blocks. Around the centre panel, we will be using a 'border' of 'courthouse steps' blocks, so I will be able to lighten up that area and transition into the darker colours quiet well. Right now that centre stands out rather starkly, doesn't it! Otherwise, I'm really happy with how it's looking. Apart from the centre, the rest of the fabrics are all 'Thimbleberries'. It's been a very frugal exercise so far. I think I've bought 4 fat quarters and about 3 meters of other fabric since the class started, all the fabric on the pieced blocks was from leftover stashed fabric from another quilt...that's a whole other story LOL.

We have the 'Courthouse Steps' and two other blocks to do before the top can be pieced together. One has some semi circle pieces...more hand piecing I suspect :)

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

My Felt Needlebook

A Simple Quilter left a little message on post from a couple of months ago asking about the felt 'flimsy' tucked into my sewing tin. It is, in actual fact, a needlebook that my mother made for me, for Christmas. I must admit it took quite some time for me to find it to be practical and actually use it. Silly me. It fits perfectly into my tin and I am now using it ALL the time!

The picture above is the needle book opened out fully. I folds in half to close it.

Now that I've got the recipe bug out of my system for today, all of your who have expressed such a lot of interest in my block-of-the-month quilt....stay tuned for a pictorial progress report.

Honey Soy Chicken

I love chicken pieces baked with honey & soy sauce. It's my favourite thing to have with rice & stir fried vegies...with all those pan juices made into a sauce that goes over it all and flavours the rice. Mmmmm, yum. The other night I was looking for a stronger flavour hit. You'd probably get that with Tamari sauce (a wheat free soy sauce), but that's super expensive, so I decided to try using Kecap Manis ~ a sweet Indonesian soy sauce. It's thicker and darker than the regular soy sauce I buy. If you scroll down to Indonesian soy on this wikipedia article, you'll see what the bottle looks like.

All I can say is WOW! I should've been using the kecap manis well before now. The flavour was more intense and perfect. Exactly what I was after. The colour of the chicken was amazing ~ a dark gleaming burnish, and lots of pan juices to make that sauce!

Honey Soy Chicken

Chicken Leg Pieces ~ enough for your family
2 spoonfuls of honey
ketcap manis (about 1-2 tablespoons)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/375F.
  2. Place the honey in a bowl ~ an ordinary cereal bowl will do.
  3. Add the kecap manis. It pours very slowly, so mix as you go, until it goes a really dark colour. Add some regular soy sauce to thin the mixture out if you want to.
  4. Brush the chicken pieces with the honey soy mixture and place skin side up in a greased glass baking dish.
  5. Bake for 45-60 minutes, brushing with pan juices after the first half hour of cooking.
To make a sauce to go over rice, you just pour all the pan juices at the end of the cooking time into a saucepan and add about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of water. Mix about 1-2 tablespoons of cornflour with some water into a smooth loose paste and add to the saucepan. Place on a medium heat and stir continually until it boils and thickens.

This chicken also goes really nicely with salads. Perhaps a potato salad, my Asian salad or a crisp garden salad. Perfect if you want something for guests ... even without the sauce.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Quick Quiche

My mother has used this recipe for many years. I got it from her...and lost it...found it again. I've repeated that cycle many times, but the recipe is finally in my little red folder never to be lost again! It's simple, foolproof and you can put into it anything you like, and have around. You've just got to love those kinds of recipes don't you! It makes for a great healthy and frugal meal. You can serve it with salad and jacket potatoes, or wedges and vegetables depending on the weather! You could also have it cold and would do great in lunch boxes if you had any left.

Quick Quiche

1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup self raising flour
3 eggs
1 cup cheese, grated
whatever else you like:
ham or bacon, mushrooms, onion, corn, tomatoes etc

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Beat eggs and milk together. Mix in flour and cheese.
  3. Place 'filling' ingredients into a well greased pie or quiche dish and pour the egg & flour mixture over gently.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes, until it is set in the middle.
My personal favourite quiche is spring onion, bacon & cheese.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Monday - You Know What That Means! plan day. We're into that kind of weather where it's 30C one day and 20C the next! Time to start planning some salad meals and some cooler weather meals in the mix so I can swap through the week as necessary.

At our table this week:

Monday: Apricot Chicken, mashed potatoes, vegies
Tuesday: Lamb Chops with Cranberry sauce, vegies
Wednesday: Vegetable Cannelloni or Lasanga, salad
Thursday: CP Beef & vegetable Casserole, brown rice
Friday: Tuna & Pasta Bake
Saturday: Chicken wings, potato cubes, salad
Sunday: Quiche

I have a great recipe for a quick-to-make crustless quiche ~ I'll post it tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Who Could Stand

Russell Falls, Tasmania ~ by Ken Duncan

"If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore You are feared".

Psalm 130:3~4

Many years ago now (about 18?!) there was an Aussie Christian band, 'In The Silence'. They did a beautiful song based around this verse. I can't provide a link to the tune but here are the words:

I've been reaching
but falling from Your touch
Sometimes I fail You
Sometimes doubt You, my Lord.
I need Your forgiveness
I'm reaching for forgiveness.

If You remembered my sin
Who could stand?
No one. No, not me.
But You remember no more
the guilty and shame
from all the days of my life.
I know there's forgiveness with Thee.

I've been drowning
Shame surrounding my heart.
Search me. Change me.
Oh Lord, help me to start again.

Oh...rivers of love to me
Oh...rivers of love to me

You're all I need to make me clean.
You're all I need. Give me eyes to see
that You're all I need. Come fill my heart.
I know You've forgiven me.

If You remembered my sin
Who could stand?
No one. No, not me.
But I know there's forgiveness with Thee.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

My Newest Sewing Skill

I had my Block of the Month quilt class this week and have again learned something new. Three days on and I'm well into my 'homework'. I'm really enjoying the handsewing parts of this quilt, despite my impatient nature that sees me choosing the sewing machine more often than not.

This month we've learned needleturn appliqué. This section of the quilt will be right in the centre and comprises four 12 inch blocks with the appliqué sewn across the top of it all. If any of you has a burning desire to see what needleturn is, I found a great little tutorial here.

The other thing I learned on Wednesday is how to use a bias binding maker gadget. I think that little $12 gem might just find its way into my sewing cabinet very soon! My rare flash of a bright idea was in storing my bias binding so that it didn't become an unraveled unpressed strip of fabric again. Ahhhh those wooden cotton reels I got at the end of last term from school are not just a treasure ~ they're useful to boot! The perfect way to store bias binding.

Now to go and find a picture of a pomegranate to see what colours they are so I can choose colours and continue with my sewing!

Friday, 10 October 2008

My Idea of Excitement... a really good book. Imagine how excited I was then, when Rel passed me this pile of books that need to be reviewed! It was all I could do to restrain myself from delving in right there on the spot.

There were just a couple of things that stopped me:
  1. I was in church. It wouldn't look terribly good if I had my head buried to the eyeballs in a book when I had been encouraging my children to actively join in the praise time at the beginning of the service! I would've had no credibility left, with them. Not to mention curious eyes from other surrounding rows!
  2. I needed to get into 'The Restorer' by Sharon Hinck so that I would have it read and my questions for Sharon emailed well & truly by the deadline given.
By tomorrow, I will have begun on my pile of excitement! I'll let you know when Rel posts the reviews.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Some Things Are Worth Paying For

There are some things that even I, the reluctant spender, will pay for. I will try and find the most cost effective way to acquire those items, but they are worth it ~ to me.

Butter: We use all butter ~ no margarine. It costs me $1.09 for a 250g block (1/2 lb) and I use about two to four a week between cooking, sandwiches & toast. I buy the store brand version as it's a fraction of the price of Western Star.

Olive Oil: I love olive oil. Something that I can use in cooking and salad dressings without cluttering my pantry with extra items (and the expense of buying extra!) is a good thing. It is well known that olive oil is also good for you. Again, I buy the store brand.

Whole Egg Mayonnaise: This is a more recent item for me. We started using it because Miss Sunshine had a period of time where she had to be dairy free. This mayo from Praise is dairy free and suited our needs perfectly. I have discovered that it is indeed a superior mayonnaise from the very vinegary tasting mayo's that are the standard fare. I always said I'd never pay good money for mayo, but this is worth it in my book. My potato salads taste soooo much better!

Ansell Rubber Gloves: I cannot live without rubber gloves. Not because I just love wearing them, but they protect my hands from the real possibility of very painful dermatitis. I used to buy the 49c store brand gloves but I don't like the Safeway ones much and they don't last long ~ a week, maybe two. The Dermo Plus gloves are not latex at all really, but they're strong. They last forever (two months!) and they are very easy to slide on and off. They are absolutely worth the money considering their life span and the pain they save me.

Apparently I'm not as stingy as it might otherwise appear!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The School Lunch Paradox

I have just realised something rather paradoxical. I love school lunches ... when I thought I was enjoying the break from them!

Today marks the beginning of Term 4 at our school and I have just made the first day's school lunches. Our school only has 'tuck shop' once a fortnight where we would be able to buy lunch, should the children be so fortunate that I might have $15 left with nothing to spend it on, on a Friday! So we send the children off each day with their lunches in their boxes. I realised six months into Miss Sunshine's first year of school that I would be organising lunches for the next 20 years and I have to say, the thought was a little overwhelming and sobering. By then it was too late to consider how many children should make up our family and stop before the time span of school lunch making increased. We already had the three children we intended to have! So I have trudged on with this daily task finding it to be a necessary part of the routine that I look forward to leaving behind on holidays. Not that the task itself is unpleasant. It's just something I enjoy a break from having to do first thing in the morning. A sandwich, a snack and a piece of fruit isn't all that inspiring!!!

For the first time during this school holidays I have found myself to be longing for school lunches. What?! How can that be?! I thought I liked not making lunches at 7am! You know what I longed for? The lower standard of expectations. On holidays there is the possibility of something hot, something special. A treat otherwise impractical or indeed impossible at school. There are a myriad of complaints many days, when such possibilities are not realised by treat seeking children.

So this morning it was not without a small amount of pleasure that I sliced the loaf of bread and made sandwiches. I wrapped up snacks and the children dug out a piece of fruit from the basket that has since been replenished with fresh fruit.

No one complained.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Favourite Things

Both useful and frivolous, are the things I adore.

My glass citrus juicer. I inherited this when my great-uncle's housekeeper died and we gained possession of the house and all its glorious contents. At 20yo I didn't truly appreciate much of what was there as I would now, but I was married and had the sense to collect some very useful items as well as some wonderful crystal and china pieces.

You just can't buy juicers like this anymore!

A crystal heart that sits upon my bedside table holding bracelets. I love the bracelets most. They're an inexpensive girly addition in any hue to match my wardrobe. I am enchanted by the sound of them on the desk whilst I write or type.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Menu Planning on Rainy Day Monday

Here's a rare thing ~ me posting so early! While the rest of Victoria's mothers are about to get up and into their back to school mornings, we still have two more days of holidays bliss to enjoy. It has just started to patter with rain so I think the order of the day might be some banana cake baking. And we could definitely snuggle up under the spare doona and watch some 'Little House on the Prairie'. I don't think the kids have seen all the Season 3 episodes yet.

I've just realised that my evenings will be greatly taken up elsewhere this week *sigh*. I'm going to enjoy my quieter days whilst I can.

Onto more important things....what's for dinner Mu-u-u-m-m?

Monday: Meatloaf & vegies
Tuesday: Lionshead Meatballs, stir fried vegies, brown rice
Wednesday: Oven Fried Chicken, vegies
Thursday: Pasta with vegie sauce
Friday: Quiche & salad
Saturday: Vegie Rolls, jacket potatoes, salad
Sunday: Honey Soy Chicken pieces, (option 1: rice, vegies), (option 2: bbq'd with salads)

I think the perfect weather of 28C that is forecast (at this stage) for Sunday warrants some consideration of entertaining friends for lunch. You can't ignore the perfect opportunity to enjoy the first great bbq day of the season!!!!!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

From Everlasting to Everlasting

"But from everlasting to everlasting the
Lord's love is with those who fear Him,

and His righteousness with their children's children -
with those who keep His covenant
and remember to obey His precepts."

Psalm 103:17-18

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Book Review: Elvis Takes a Back Seat

Elvis Takes a Back Seat

By Leanna Ellis

What is it About?

As Claudia prepares for a garage sale, she discovers a letter from her late husband Stuart, asking her to return a three-foot bust of Elvis Presley back to its home in Memphis. Her Aunt Rae offers to take the trip with her and Ivy, the teenage daughter of long-time friend Ben, decides to go along for the ride too.

The three women load up Stuart’s Cadillac, with Elvis belted in to the back seat and head off on a journey with many twists and turns ahead of each of them. Will Claudia be able to put the past behind her so that she can move forward with life? Can they discover why Ivy seems so thin and unwell? And what do Rae’s secrets and past have to do with their journey now?

What I thought:

‘Elvis Takes a Back Seat’ is a poignant tale of three women on a journey together. Whilst the premise for their trip seems simple, each one has her own more complicated reason for being there. I loved the way Leanna Ellis wove their lives together. Claudia’s tentative relationship with her Aunt sets a foundation that eventually allows for an incredible revelation. Leanna’s depiction of Claudia’s emotional upheaval is entirely realistic and draws the reader along the journey with her. The mystery and slightly hippy style that is Aunt Rae gives the story an airy lightness that balances the tragedy that each woman has either faced or will face. She left me wishing to know her entire story. Leanna includes just enough to satisfy and yet leaves enough mystery to keep you wondering. The escapades of travelling with an Elvis bust also provide many humourous moments! Ivy’s sullen teenage demeanour is handled realistically, with her bouts of enthusiastic engagement and then sullen withdrawal that are so typical of teen behaviour so ably included.

To be honest, I was a tad dubious about a story that included Elvis, not being a fan myself. However, whilst the Elvis bust gives the initial basis of this book, the tale is more about the women and their lives and their intertwined future together. I was moved to tears many a time as the three women struggled with the many facets of honesty in family relationships, security in one’s identity and working through the hand life deals to make a positive way forward. Leanna reminded me through ‘Elvis Takes a Back Seat’ that no matter what we go through in life, God can bring beauty out of the ashes of our lives.

I kinda left this book til a long time after I got it, although I'd read the blurb and knew it wasn't really about Elvis. I really should've picked it up a lot sooner because the story was so moving and beautiful.

Friday, 3 October 2008

The Foodie Post

I have a photo of the beginnings of a chocolate ripple cake . I'm impressed that I remembered LOL. I neglected to mention that when you slice them, you do it across on the diagonal so that you get the stripes.

I also wanted to share this simple but very special little breakfast dish. I'm a bit stingy when it comes to eggs. I object rather strongly to using a whole dozen on one meal. So when I want to do something a little bit nice, but without using all the eggs I have, this is what I do.

Baked Eggs

1 egg per person (or two, if you like)
chopped ham
chopped spring onions
grated cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Grease a normal sized muffin pan really really well (or your eggs won't come out)
  3. Break one egg into each hole, and top with the ham, spring onion and cheese.
  4. Bake for about 10 minutes
Told you it was easy!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Chocolate Ripple Cake

I'm starting off with a confession ~ the picture isn't mine!!! The reason being, I will be making this later this arvo. However, if I can stave of the hungry girls who will no doubt devour this (and if I remember!), I will post a pic of the one I make!

This is one of the easy peasiest desserts a person will ever make. There is no baking involved and you need to make it the day before so that the biscuits (cookies) have time to soften up. Great for a dinner party, don't you think?!

Chocolate Ripple Cake

1 Packet of chocolate biscuits (I use Arnott's 'chocolate ripple')
300ml whipping cream
  1. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. On a long slim platter, spread a thin layer of cream along the length (about 30cm) where your log will sit.
  3. Spread a biscuit with cream and sandwich another biscuit on top of the cream. To begin forming the log, place the sandwiched biscuits vertically at one end, ensuring they are on the bed of cream already spread.
  4. Continue on, by spreading one biscuit at a time with cream and adding it to the log until all the biscuits are used.
  5. Once you have your log, cover the entire length, all the way around with cream. Make sure you have a thick layer, otherwise you will see the biscuits begin to poke through as the cake 'matures'.
  6. Cover, and refrigerate at least overnight, preferably 24 hours.
  7. To serve, you can scatter grated chocolate over the top, or sliced strawberries. You could dust with cocoa powder.
To make this more grown up, you could dip every second biscuit in sherry or your favourite liqueur. I've seen recipes that add vanilla essence and sugar to the cream. My Mum never did that and so it's not a habit I have taken up. In any case, the biscuits are plenty sweet enough so I don't think it's really necessary.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Mr Busy's Little Friends

The other night Dh came home with an ice cream container. Wow...the kids thought they'd died and gone to Heaven. Ice cream in our house is a very rare treat. But no, it was not ice cream. Instead, the plastic box contained three little pot plants! The guy who does deliveries for us has these little beauties growing at his place and he happened to think that one little boy might find them to be a fascinating adventure! Mr Busy thinks they're marvellous and wants to know when we can catch some flies to feed them. Hmmmmmm. Fortunately our trusty rusty internet search has told us they do well with water, air and soil between carnivorous treats!

Venus Fly Traps. Now there's my kind of pet! They kinda take care of themselves so long as you keep them wet. I hope they don't die of starvation. Although since we're coming into summer I would imagine they'll find plenty of flies to eat. Last year they'd have been feasting on the plague well and truly by now!

What more could a little boy want. I imagine Show & Tell will be very exciting next week when we're back at school.