Thursday, June 20, 2013

Winter mornings..

I have adjusted my morning routine.
I have always woken the children at 6.00am and served breakfast at about 6.30am on weekday mornings, which gave the children 1/2 an hour to dress, take care of teeth, hair etc and do their bedrooms. They would move on to the morning duties after breakfast before leaving for the school buses.
Now that we are in winter it is still quite dark and very cold at 6.00am, everyone was moving ALOT slower than usual, barely making it to the table fully dressed let alone having finished what is expected of them!
And so I have changed the morning routine and there has been significant improvement. I now serve breakfast at 7.00am giving them an hour to get into the swing of things, kitchen is closed at 7.20am and they have 25mins to pack bags and do morning duties before they have to go out to the bus, I will also help girls with their hair during this time if they need it.
The mornings are much calmer now!
It also has made it easier for me to prepare and set out the lunches and cook the breakfast, that extra 1/2 an hour makes quite a difference!
Sandwiches ready for lunchboxes
I have been trying a few different things for breakfast lately, other than the usual egg and baked beans on toast or grilled tomato and bacon on toast with fresh, tinned or stewed fruit (It depends on the day) and a bowl of porridge or Weet-bix. I do recommend a big hot breakfast for children especially in the cooler months, I think its lovely to have them head out for the day all warm and rugged up with nice full bellies!
Warm sultana and bran muffins with butter and strawberries
Both of these are served with a mug of hot chocolate!

Hot bread, butter and quince jelly with oranges.
I know that these breakfasts are not as filling as the usual things, but they are definitely morale boosters, and easier to prepare on those busier or hurried mornings. I just pack a bigger morning tea!  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Two pretty Birthday Parties...

My baby girl turned 8 this month
I made pretty labels for these little water bottles with the children's names on them. The only fizzy drink we served was some jugs of homemade ginger beer courtesy of Daddy! I served it with the food.
Helium balloons and scrapbook paper bunting. Each balloon was tied to a little 50g block of chocolate wrapped neatly in brown paper, a gift for each child to take home.
The rainbow layered birthday cake!
The games were Duck Duck Goose.
and What's the time Mr Wolf
There was dancing, and her big brothers and sisters put on a play!

I made her this dolly that she has named "Lucy" and this pretty winter cape..
My big girl also had her birthday, she is 13 now and officially a young lady!
She woke up to siblings singing, and her lovely gifts..
She had a "Crafternoon tea"
The afternoon began with 2hrs of paper craft , followed by High tea, and then we had 2 hrs of embroidery the girls made lavender bags..
Examples of their work!
The birthday cakes!
The girls drank a delightful blend of tea from Fortnum & Mason
sparkling water, and lemonade...
Happy Birthday my darlings!






Monday, April 15, 2013

Pantry Staples....

Basil and Dandelion drying in our pantry
I make most of our food from scratch and I would love to be able to do more things like pickling and preserving our own garden produce, I have to be a little more patient though as our garden is still new, and I think it will be at least springtime before it can boast quantities of vegetables large enough to keep a lasting supply for our family!
 When planning menu's for my family nutrition is very important to me, I take care not to be wasteful and use real ingredients.
Here is the list of  pantry staples that I keep, these are used often and quantitys always checked when writing my weekly shopping list. There is not alot you cant invent in the kitchen if you are well stocked with these items!
flour- plain
flour- self raising
flour- wholemeal P
flour- wholemeal SR
sugar- raw
sugar- castor
sugar- brown (quality dark)
sugar- icing
rice- brown
rice- long grain white
rice- med/short grain (aborio)
pasta- soup ( alphabet pasta is fun!)
pasta- noodles (penne, farfale or macaroni)
pasta- spaghetti or fettucine
legumes dried
-red lentils
-green lentils
oats- rolled
oats- quick
pearl barley
dessicated coconut
bi-carb soda
baking powder
dry yeast
cocoa (premium, its so worth it!)
vanilla extract
golden syrup
dried apricots
dried cranberries
nuts- almonds
nuts- hazel
nuts- cashews
dried herbs & spices
- ginger
- nutmeg
- cinnamon
- whole cloves
- cayenne pepper
- corriander seeds
- oregano
- chives
- rosemary
- dried garlic
- sage
- bay leaves
- marjoram
olive oil
vinegar- balsamic
vinegar- white
mustard powder
curry powder
dried parmesan
massel natural stock powders
- chicken
- beef
- vegetable
passata jars
tomato paste
tins- crushed tomatoes
tins- canelli beans (for making baked beans)
tinned fruit- variety
tins- corn kernels

As well as pantry staples I also make sure I have a chicken and some beef mince "spare" in the freezer, also frozen spinach and puff pastry comes in very handy!
The fridge almost always contains fullcream milk (I never buy low fat dairy products)
cream, cheese, butter, eggs, lemons and bacon.
I buy our fruit and vegetables seasonally at the farmers markets and to be honest with a store of the above items, you can make so much! Anything from toasted muesli, breads, puddings,cakes and muffins, to stews, soups, pasta dishes, roast dinners, and lots more, all without MSG and preservative laden packet mixes and jars of stuff!
Obviously if you were purchasing all these items at once yes it would be costly,but you dont run out of everything at the same time, and I have found that cooking this way is not only healthier for my family, it is very budget friendly too!...


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In the Laundry...

When it comes to homemaking the laundry is really very important, especially if you have a large family. To be honest its probably the thing I struggle to maintain the most, dirty washing is never ending and just keeps on coming, and dont even get me started on the mountains of ironing! I found it became more difficult when our old top loader passed away and we replaced her with a smart new front loader machine, please dont mistake me our front loader is a lovely machine BUT each load takes such a loooong time! I could have had 2 loads finished and on the line with our old washer in the time it takes to do a load of whites now, so if I get behind in the laundry it can take days to catch up!

I have been very lucky to get a house with a nice big laundryroom this time as usually I end up with one that is quite small.
In the very top photo you will see a large wooden chopping board that I bought at Ikea, I have always used it in my laundry's and sat it over the trough to give me a little more space to sort things or sit a pot plant etc, it also keeps things looking tidy when I have things soaking in the trough underneath.
I have 4 baskets that were $10.00 each at Kmart for Linens, Darks, Lights and Whites and a large white nappy bucket for all socks and underwear. I find if they are put in the bucket, pairs and sets stay together in the same load and it makes sorting easier. I think I would like a basket just for army and school uniforms but I am hesitant as I think I will be pushing it for space. With a smaller room, the baskets do fit well along the hall by the laundry door as they are fairly narrow and dont get in the way.
I have a hanging rack that I love!! It is actually security bars off someones old windows painted white, my dad put it up for me when we were in Brisbane and it was so brilliant it has gone up here too! I use it to dry clothes and to hang everything on when I'm doing the ironing.
Here is my housekeeping kit, I use laundry powder for all sorts of things, cleaning the bathrooms and toilets, mopping the floors it even brings the oven up beautifully. All anyone really needs to keep a home clean and fresh is laundry powder, eucalyptus or lavender oil,vinegar, bicarb soda and some good quality furniture polish.
Dont forget a few little touches to make it a pleasant place to work! Its certainly worth the effort to keep it tidy and attractive since we spend so much time in there...
Happy laundering!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

For when little ones over indulge.....

Do you remember what happened to Peter rabbit when he ate too many cabbages in Mr Magregors garden?
Well, my youngest daughter came home yesterday, quite ill from a play date where she was fed HUGE quantitys of softdrink, chocolate bars, lollies etc.
She is certainly not used to this and was very unwell. I thought I would share my remedy, I also use this when they may have had a really big and exhausting day.
First things first a lavender essential oil bubble bath, and a dose of Bach Rescue remedy (flower essences).

Then when they are dry and cosy in their pajamas, they have a supper of warm stewed apples with cinnamon and a cup of camomile and dandelion leaf tea.
Just like Peter rabbit..
If they are not unwell just exhausted, they have a boiled egg with vegemite toast soldiers first.
They then have another dose of Rescue Remedy ( If you have never tried it it is wonderful, so gentle yet very effective) and are off to bed by 6pm..
I wonder, I think an over indulgence in cabbage may be easier to deal with! 


Monday, February 25, 2013

The feeling is neutral...

As a rule I tend to prefer a neutral palette when is comes to decor, but I felt like freshening things up a little over summer by adding some touches of light blue here and there. Well summer is almost over and I think Im over the blue.
So I have put away my blue things and have brought out my more neutral things, also a little black and white.
I am hoping for a bit of a provincial feel.
I must say I do love the colder weather, and I am so looking  forward to Autumn!
Chilly nights to snuggle up with a book or some knitting and a nice pot of tea, pottering about on those quiet almost dark foggy mornings preparing breakfast while the family is still sleeping, and of course the beautiful trees! I really missed the Autumn leaves last year in Queensland!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Catching Up....

Well here we are! After an extremely busy Summer holidays, I think I am just starting to feel normal again. Our new house is starting to feel like home, the children have all started school for the year and I might add are loving it so far, we have things growing in the garden and now it's time for me to spend the next few weeks pottering about settling everyone into their new routines and sorting out our home after having six children at home on school holidays for ten weeks! I did love having them here with me, but goodness it makes it difficult to keep on top of things!!
I thought today I might post about whats been going on here at home for the last couple of weeks, and I'll start in the garden. When we first moved in, my dear husband and sons spent an entire weekend digging up the backyard to start our vegetable garden. They planted it out with all sorts of seedlings and seeds. Unfortunately a week later we had torrential rain that washed away most of them, followed shortly after was a heat wave with a week of temperatures in the mid forties(celsius) that fried almost everything else!
All that managed to survive were the tomatoes and broad beans, so we will just start again with the winter crop and should start planting soon....

I have just yesterday started knitting everybody some beautiful warm pure wool school scarves. I'm getting ready for our cold Canberra winter!
We have been out to the farmers markets every weekend and a few weeks ago I came home with large quantities of absolutely spectacular apricots and strawberries! We ate ALOT and I made jam with the rest. We now have about a years supply in the pantry!
And last but not least I had morning tea today with one of our new neighbours. She has an amazing garden filled with  a chicken run, herbs, vegetables, native plants, bulbs, roses and much more! She was kind enough to dig up some comfrey for me to plant in our garden, and even gave me some of her homemade comfrey ointment and a lesson on how to make it! I'm going to use the same technique for calendula ointment, and some eucalyptus/tea tree/lavender to make a chest rub for colds and flu, I thought it was a marvellous idea!
I hope you all are enjoying your last weeks of Summer too!!