Thursday, January 29, 2009

Frizzled Out

You may remember my previous post called In a Frizzle. I thought I'd give you an update.

We didn't end up doing anything in particular, and for whatever reason had a little break, with just the family.

Now I feel fine again. I think this happens to me each Christmas. I think in Australia there are so many changes made each start of the New Year. And I guess by the end of the school holidays we have adjusted, the Christmas stress is behind us and we are ready to start a new school year.

I was interested to read a post about the Back to School flyers. I don't notice the Back to School and other flyers much. I did notice lots of cooked lunches in the Taste newsletter. Imagine a cooked lunch hanging on a hook outside in 40oC heat! I suppose there are always frozen bricks to put inside the lunch box. My little girl hangs her bag in airconditioning, so that is good.

I am having a problem with food shopping though. It is too hot to go to the regional centre. My daughter wanted to go there today. It was to be 40 something there today. In that temperature you can only walk outside for a few minutes if that, so I had to cancel. No relief from the heat on the horizon, is that a pun?

My daughter has stayed home more the last few days, but her sister has gone out instead. I have only a few more days of school holidays left, four exactly. My husband is back at work and will help buy a few grocery things. With the school holidays and the children home, there are not a lot of extra things left. I did get a nice delivery of fruit and bread this morning. We have been eating watermelon and rockmelon this morning, and my daughter got a treat of chips for helping me. It seems to be keeping them amused on this hot day. I am glad they are not at school this week. Not with one starting High School which is Year 7 here.

Our freezer constantly needs defrosting to keep cool. It is a self defrosting one, so has a fault. We drive to our hometown to get it fixed, a two hour drive. We think we should take it down when hubby has to go to the dentist. But that means two lots of expenses.

So tonight we are defrosting. We are jumbled up in that it should have been done before my 22 odd loaves of bread arrived. We keep the styrofoam boxes that our frozen Christmas hampers come in to put the food in when defrosting, that helps.

So I have gone from a frizzle to a minor jumble. However, I feel a bit better, I will retreat to my book and enjoy the cool morning while it lasts.

Bus by Cheryl Piperberg

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bread and Scones

When I was a little girl, I was equally fond of scones, white high tin bread, and scones.

White high tin, the double one sometimes, was wrapped in tissue paper and left in a cream can my Great Uncles' front verandah. Sometimes by the time I got it home from collecting the bread for Mum, there was a little hole in the crust: I can still image how it tastes. It was fun to separate the two halves. If our family didn't finish the loaf I was asked to feed it to the ducks that Mum kept.

And I am fond of the modern bread. When I was a girl the plastic wrappers I only saw when I went to stay at my Mum's best friends house with her six kids, husband at their dairy.

The bought bread had a distintive taste, and was kept in a cupboard. It is possibly like the cupboard I bought a couple of years ago, with two doors with tin lined hutch behind each. With an old-fashioned catch. I was so in awe of my Mum's friend's bread experience that I bought this cupboard.

I have thought often if I ever ran out of bread I'd make scones. But I haven't done it yet. I wasn't sure how it would work out. Plus I haven't ran out of bread. I thought if I was wanting to save money on a very tight week I would do that.

I have been buying more flour lately, but still there are not large enough amounts to make up for the 23 loaves of bread I buy a fortnight, but I still will do that if it will help. We keep our bread stored in the freezer. I try to buy equal amounts of wholemeal and white to be fair to everyone, but usually it is nearly all white with token amounts of wholemeal at the moment.

Scones are a favourite because of the Red Cross flower show held each year. There was a children's cooking section. My cousin entered her biscuits (cookies) and I entered scones. I loved to make scones. My favourite at the time was wholemeal date scones. I loved the flour that my Nana used to bake with. It was probably McAlpins. It still? comes in a cardboard type box. She loved baking so much that she had special flour drawers made in her cupboards and kept a teacup in there with a broken handle.

Her kitchen has been modified but I think the drawers are the two square ones. The house is for sale, this is the photo for it. Nana had a wood stove. She also had a colander with eggs under the sink.

I love to use a small drinking glass to cut my scones.

My Grandma always made square scones with a knife. Her parents were born in Scotland, she was too, but wouldn't remember living there.

At school I learnt to make a ring with dried fruit in it and cuts around the side. I got a lot of joy making that type of scone. I think it had spices in it as well.

Butter came in a square then, a pound, as Aussie know now they are roughly in half and 250g. My Nana used to teach me how to cut up the butter into ounces or whatever was needed for the recipe.

When we lived in our practice seachange house in 2003 once we did have little money for food and got a great bag of bread that was day old because we asked. It was for a nominal amount.

My Nana had a bread run, and the whole back of the ute was mostly stacked with shelves with mostly what was called parnies (sp?). It was Italian bread. My uncle and my aunty, my Dad's sister only ate this type of bread I think. A lot of our neighbours were Italian. At different farms the women came out fast to see Nana to get the perfect loaf in their perfect colour.

This post was inspired by a post at Down-to-Earth.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Simple Things

Simple Things by Amy Grant.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Plain Aussie Fare

Tonight I am doing the cooking as hubby and second son are away. The girls will always eat mashed potato with a meat, and I found that easiest tonight. Plus I like peeling potatoes.

The way I make it is similar to this video of Paul McCartney.

I use an orange masher that we have always had (actually it is hubby's), and also have been known to prefer a fork. Tonight I mixed with the masher.

I don't mind unwashed potatoes to start with, and I buy between 3-5kg bags. However, we don't have mashed potatoes every night, which is the traditional Australian way to eat.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Robur tea anyone?

This photo is from a 1930s Leader book, called The Leader Spare Corner Book. It gives an idea about Australian's tea tastes. Although we have a couple of old books like that (see photo below), we would only use them for ideas about preserving etc. Or maybe try to find some recipe like lettuce salad.

The idea to use recipes without preservatives is excellent, but I find there are very inventive simple recipes on the Taste site. They can be preservative free, or only use stock cubes, and always seem to work. I imagine they have less fat than the traditional recipes.

However, I'll eat quite fatty things, some I enjoy more than others.

Don't you love that kettle? I imagine it was simmering away on the back of a wood stove.

The above photo is situated in North East Victoria and you can click for the photostream.

I found out to take more photos of vintage books there is a setting for text and to compensate for the angle.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This week I seem to be writing about bugs. It started off in one of those memes where you write facts about yourself, and I wrote that I am not scared of spiders. However, if there is a white tipped spider running around the walls at 10pm, I definitely call for hubby.

Then there was the post on my other blog, a photo for the day, and I chose a Christmas beetle.

My comments to my posts where interesting: post 1, post 2.

Blogger Sandra said...

*shiver* I really really dislike bugs, it's neat up close but I'm glad I'm not the one holding it LOL

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Blogger Amanda said...

I enjoyed reading your answers and was surprised to find a lady who is not scared by spiders. Good on you!

Last Saturday we found some more baby ladybirds at our new house. My little girl had found some in the shasta daisies earlier, though I didn't get a photograph of them.

This is an orb spider curled up. I'm sorry I don't even like that photo particularly. It was interesting to me though because I have only seen them in their webs in the day time. The Canberra Zoo had an orb spider last autumn and made it into an exhibit outside.

This is a different photo of the Christmas beetle you can see his eyes.

"During Christmas I was disappointed I didn't see any Christmas beetles. Yesterday I walked to the shops with the two little girls and this was my reward. I saw three. They are all dead, which is quite often the case with Christmas beetles when you see them, and this one was undamaged.

Now I am happy."

Apparently my husband and daughter saw some under a light on their early morning walk with the dog also, before I did.

In Australia we don't call everything bugs as a group. We don't usually use minibeasts either. That is something I learnt from children's TV or something like that.

I wonder why I don't mind spiders and can have beetles on my hand?

I enjoyed looking at the creatures that came out of the firewood when I was little. They are nice minibeasts. My second enjoys looking at them too.

My Mum was always coming across worms when she dug the vegetable garden. I remember enjoying the garden one particular day because it had cape gooseberries in it. I had a friend, a boy, who I went fishing with. I originally learnt to fish by watching my Dad fish.

After that my husband used to find things in the garden for my little boys to enjoy.

Apart from that, I'll have to have a think and see what other part insects etc. played in my life. I know at school we used to like to catch grasshoppers.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fortnightly Menu, Grocery Shopping & our day out

A cat lies on a chair by a table that is set for a meal by Tino Soriano
I came up with this idea of doing my menu plan on the actual days instead of waiting until Monday to join in with Menu Plan Monday at Organised Junkie. I thought it would be more honest as my menus always start on the Thursday after I buy the food. However, usually I do the draft with the start of the plan, and by Monday it is all set in stone so to speak.

I did my plan as far as I could get on Thursday night, despite the heat, and now it will look like I didn't actually plan the meals for the days that have gone past while I have been doing the post. Oh well, at least I tried. I have four meals to iron out, and it is Friday. I will correct these as I go I think. Edited to say I got them finished and it is Friday lunchtime, and a strong wind has sprung up outside.

I took the girls grocery shopping. I did some research before I went, I had this idea I would show them the library at that town, since we hadn't seen it. I saw the building on our library site, looked at the maps online with hubby's help, it took a little while, but I had seen the building before so it was easy, and on the way.

We parked under a tree, very hot day, and were just there before the doors opened. There were some boys waiting. They were ushered in, given a bean bag, TV turned on and they were set in the air-conditioning for a morning of games.

I saw the 50c secondhand books and was a little disappointed that I didn't bring any cash. They also had a magazine swap box. As you know I have many magazines, and I am at the point where they may find themselves in the bin.

The library has an interesting roof line and the picture books were very well displayed so you could see the covers in this little nook. The staff were very nice, so I couldn't believe it really. Our eldest daughter had her Dad chase down unsuccessfully a magazine for days, and it was there sitting on the shelf and she was able to borrow it.

I saw some more lavender plants in punnets in the grocery shop, and the girls were very helpful, though they don't quite understand how narrow the aisles were. In our hometown years ago there was plenty of room where I shopped. The shop has gone out of vacuum packed pancetta and prosciutto, and I noted that I think it costs three times as much now, if the vacuum packs held a similar amount. I had done my research by looking at my old dockets I keep in a spare handbag. I saw the new packets last time I shopped there a month ago.

Still anything that is around $6 for meat for our meal is OK I decided. I have already bought the fruit, I am getting an earlier delivery now since they deliver on less days. So I have to plan around what vegetables I have.


Thursday January 15~ Tomato & Chipolata Hotpot
Friday ~ Baked Pasta, Mushroom & Ham Pie (since it is cool today)
Saturday ~ Stir-fry Pork & Beans with Chilli
Sunday ~ Beans with Sage, Pancetta & Vinegar
Monday ~ Potato and Prosciutto Salad
Tuesday ~ Pork Mince Stroganoff
Wednesday ~ Tomato & Sausage Stew with Soft Polenta
Thursday ~ Honey Mustard Chicken with Mashed Potato, Pumpkin & Green Vegetable (I bought the new cheaper Chicken Tonight copy since it is new in the shop and we all like it)
Friday ~ Antipasto Pasta
Saturday ~ Creamy Cauliflower & Pasta (see below)
Sunday ~ Polish Sausage Salad
Monday ~ Indian Beef Curry
Tuesday ~ Flame Grill Fish Risotto
Wednesday ~ Chili Con Carne with Vegetables

Creamy Cauliflower and Pasta

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 pound whole wheat pasta, such as shells or rotelle
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
4 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, stemmed and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon to a medium bowl, reserving the water. Cook the pasta accoding to package directions in the reserved water. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking the cauliflower into bite-size pieces. Add the wine, oregano, olives and red-pepper flakes and cook for 3 minutes, or until the cauliflower is very tender. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the pasta and toss to coat well. Top with the cheese.

From Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool

If anyone wants to know how to quickly cook in non-metric, use a tea cup for the cups and old-fashioned tablespoons from the drawer. Or recognise that American cups are 200ml instead of 250ml and US tablespoons are 15ml instead of 20ml.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Simple Life & Opportunity Cost

Year 12 Economics, a long time ago. What is Opportunity Cost and how does it relate to simple living or living within your means.

Basically if you are living cash only, you can't think of opportunity cost. You have to let some things go. It is very hard to do, and I admit lately I haven't been doing it. Mostly because of the place in where I live. I would rather get things when I see them. Yes, it probably impacts my finances, yet I think I still let some things go, some opportunities. It impacts my finances the most when I am paying for car repairs as I am now, and did in the spring.

What is opportunity cost? Opportunity Cost is an economic term that refers to the advantages of the second best business alternative, which are forgone as a result of accepting the best alternative.

The costs of a missed opportunity.

What does that mean? Basically if you see a sale, you don't have the money and you have to buy it when you do have the money and the price has gone up.

That is how I remember it. What we seem to do as people is to convince ourselves that we have to buy it now.

In my case, it may not be there next week, or I may not be in that town again for 12 months.

Yesterday I saw two punnets of lavender bushes, twelve plants for a hedge I was advised to get for our property for selling purposes. I won't see these bushes again. Technically I shouldn't be spending any money because I need it for something else. There would be a cost to missing this opportunity as they were $10 for both punnets. I did buy them, but I didn't buy the fruit trees early this year that we had been advised to put in, I couldn't afford them.

Here is basically what the net says it is.

Interesting reading, very heavy. And another. This too is interesting. It says: Opportunity cost is what you have to give up to get something.

Lavender Hedge Edging a Path (Lavandula), Watering Can by Linda Burgess

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In a Frizzle

I'm afraid I may have failed Building Community 101.

I am embarassed, therefore the frizzle.

One of the things I have noticed about being a stay at home Mum is that sometimes you are asked to look after other people's kids, or it inadvertently it happens. All the examples I could give you, I don't know actually what happened, or if anyone was actually in the wrong.

But I get somehow looking after kids, and this is not really my thing. My thing is to look after kids, mostly all the time, lots of them, but mine. I like looking after my own kids.

The other hubby mentioned in a serious moment that I may not have realised how much work they would be when they were older when I had them. Upon reflection, maybe it is situations like this that really have me frustrated lately.

A frizzle describes how I feel, but really it is a type of chicken/chook. Or a bad feather day. Yes, my feathers are ruffled. I am tired, have been sick really for months. Can't breathe properly, it is hot. But, really I want a holiday, and we have had two where hubby works on the house nearly all the time, though this time he helps me out in the mornings. Last January and this January, I have had had extra kids in and out of my house. Last year, they had other places to go by this time last year, but I was in a worse frizzle!!! As I was saying a holiday, with my kids, where my husband still works, which is work in itself. It is difficult enough not feeling 100% with no airconditioning.

This is where I fail BC101. Wouldn't you like it when the other parents take one child off your hands for awhile? Well no. It is a personal preference. I am not suited to small towns, though in our old town we had a large front yard and the kids invited themselves over. Eventually the kids stayed home. Prior to this we had a house that was more isolated and I enjoyed playing with my own kids in the shady backyard.

When you live on one income, like at the beginning of our marriage we were very interdependent on our friends. We feel now that we would rather work hard and be more dependent on ourselves. I feel that it part of being grown up. Of course there are times when you do need a hand.

Having older children I can manage looking after them pretty well.

Do you feel suspicious sometimes, when you hear from your child that a parent wants to go to the Races, a concert etc. etc.? If you don't go to the Races, concerts yourself, how do you feel or what do you use to decide if you should enable others to go? I know it seems a stupid question.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What does "Prep Something" mean?

I often use a page on Independence Days when I am doing the Back to Basics Challenge (Back to Basics home) on my other blog. However, I always come up against understanding this section.

"Prep something. Hit a yard sale and pick up an extra blanket. Purchase some extra legumes and oatmeal. Sort out and inventory your pantry. Make a list of tools you need. Find a way to give what you don’t need to someone who does. Fix your bike. Fill that old soda bottle with water with a couple of drops of bleach in it. Plan for next year’s edible landscaping. Make back-road directions to your place and send it to family in case they ever need to come to you - or make ‘em for yourself for where you might have to go. Clean, mend, declutter, learn a new skill. Independence is being ready for whatever comes."

Hmm, lets see. I'm still not sure what it means in a rush, but it does bring to mind some things that we have been doing.

"Find a way to give what you don’t need to someone who does."

The car. On Tuesday, while my husband was away at our hometown running errands, I took our youngest who is seven to her swimming lessons. When I got home a man was waiting for me outside to speak to me. We have a car that has some problems, but basically with those few small problems fixed, like a gas (LPG) tune, a battery that type of thing. Basically some things that weren't essential to get fixed and should have. Problems with age, but not mechanical.

We like to run it on gas, but one day it stopped working. It takes awhile to get to the gas tuning place, and we tend to fix our other cars and leave that one. It is extremely economical and we have had it for years. We want to give it to our son, but not sure it is it safe enough to give to another person, you know, because modern cars are "safer".

So anyway we will see what happens when the man comes back. His daughter had a van and she was involved in an accident and she needs a car. We may have need of it ourselves to keep costs down when we move house and have to travel for work. Sometimes, we can't decide things very well. We got a newer car last year because it was more tidy.

Purchase some extra legumes and oatmeal.
This morning I went to a bit of trouble to replenish our bonito stock. What is bonito stock. Well, it is stock naturally that you use to make miso soup. You use another paste as you would tomato paste for the soup, add some particular vegetables and ten minutes later you have a nice soup. It has been awhile since we ran out but I think this is the recipe I use, at least for the vegetable ideas.

I bought mine from this shop, however, I am unsure where I bought it from originally as the docket was taken out of the window on the box.

Miso Paste, Miyagawa Market, Takayama, Honshu, Japan by Christopher Rennie

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Days Of Simplicity

Cooking the Christmas Pudding

Well, I haven't been doing much blogging since Wednesday night. My post about my blog was done in advance, which was nice, as I just couldn't blog. It was probably both health and being busy I think. This next little bit I wrote for the Back To Basics Challenge on my other blog, but that was as far as I got.

"I have been checking out the latest savings club catalogues with the Christmas Hamper clubs and was looking at the cutlery etc. for our second son to take to uni in 2010. At uni, cutlery goes missing sometimes, or gets taken away if you don't do your dishes in a timely manner. If you aren't there at 9am Monday to collect it, out it goes! I don't mind buying the cutlery but as you know it costs a lot. In the op-shop I found a six piece set of Wiltshire very heavy retro cutlery for $4.50! Son was pleased with it. If all else fails someone can use it for building up the muscles in their arms! Yes, it is that heavy."

I was talking of course, about my shopping trip on Wednesday. Our pay came in early and I chose to shop in a different town this time for my groceries. I took the two youngest with me.

At the op-shop we also got a simple blue or grey office chair for our middle daughter who needed one for her computer set up, she was using my phone talking chair. I also got a retro tea pot, that I have wanted since seeing some in a cubby house in a very old Our House magazine, well it was years ago when the magazine was new. We don't actually think it will be used for that now, but it is cute and small enough to even sit on one of those modern plastic toy stoves.

I got some retro yellow/orange egg cups, enough for the whole family so they match.

We bought a UPS battery online one day as we have had some short black outs lately. We live near to the power station and we get surges. Because of this we had to get those new light bulbs at quite a big investment to start with, because our globes kept blowing.

Baby ladybirds: my daughter says the baby ones live inside the starting to open shasta daisies. Today I looked and did see some very small ladybirds on the plants where she told me about this.

Planting sunflowers: hubby said he planted some colourful ones at the new house so we don't lose our lovely colours. There are no self sown ones there from last year that I know of.

Using up old downpipes. We wanted some downpipes but our shop, believe it or not didn't have any. In the meantime as it rains a lot and some is coming into the ceiling of our new house because of the large amount of rain that seems to come down in the mountains, we found some in our collection of stuff. You know, the "may come in handy sometime pile".

Last night I got around to boiling the Christmas pudding. I put the water on around 4pm. I topped up the water in the stockpot two or three times. Someone got the pudding out for me after it was boiled for two hours, but I turned it upside down onto a plate so I wouldn't cut the cloth. I also was the one to cut the strings and cut up the pudding. I poured lots of cream over each piece.