Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The last day of summer - in review

Wellington Point, Qld - our local beach

Well, it'll be officially over after today. Summer that is and what a mixed up, topsy turvy time we've had. Long gone are the long summer days I grew up with. In the last couple of years, our country has seen the worst flooding ever in parts, bad cyclones, heatwaves, bush fires, inland tsunamis, just to name a few. Our weather here in Brisbane was unbearably hot some days and quite mild and comfortable on others. Not like how it was when I was growing up. It was hot from late September until early May with especially bad humidity from December through until February.

It made it a little hard to plan too much with the kids but other than the vacation to Noosa just before Christmas we played it by ear and went out when the sun was out. It was better this way with my kids as they enjoyed playing with each other (finally).

Waiting for the train

There was the train ride into Brisbane CBD to catch Santa in Santaland.

It was a warm day and thirsty work.

There was our few days away at Noosaville on the Sunshine Coast. Even with intermittent rain, we managed two swims a day. I'm sure the kids grew gills and webbed feet in those few days.

Sibling love at Kindy graduation

There was the end of an era with my son finishing Kindergarten at one of the most wonderful Kindergartens in our area. Both children went there and I'm sorry we haven't got any more children to go through. All of the teachers were fantastic and gave our children a great head start for their education.

Doing the present 'happy dance'

There was Christmas morning full of nice surprises and making wonderful memories, even for the dogs.

I've now got both children at school and we started at a new school this year. We're so happy we made the change. They've both settled in so well.

We spent plenty of time at our local parks and some not so local. Kalinga Park is close to my Mum and we had a lovely time there. It'll be a sad day when the kids will have grown too old for a park.

There were quite a few days at our local beach and a few at the Wynnum Wading Pool and Waterpark. Hopefully we'll have a few more weeks there before it gets too cold.

Another lovely summer full of memories for us and the kids. I wonder what the Bureau of Meteorology will predict for next summer? More floods, more cyclones or dry and hot? We'll see.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Buying second hand, first

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Things break. Things deteriorate. Even when I was a child back in the 70's, when the television stopped working, you called the repair man to the house and he fixed it (for a reasonable price, mind you). Now, when the television stops working, you throw it away and get a new one. It's just mind boggling how we've become a throw away society.

vintage utensils

I try to buy second hand whenever I can. If the egg flip snaps, I head to my local thrift store to replace it. If my son needs football shoes, I head to the thrift store. (Which, by the way, I picked up for $4 the other day.) Some of the dollar stores (and even KMart in Australia) have excellent priced goods for these sorts of things but the biggest problem I have, is I tend to walk out with a lot more than I really need. I don't think I'm alone there.  I do like collecting things like depression glass and vintage linen so the thrift stores can be a bit of a temptation to me as well but I try to show restraint, don't go over budget and only get what I need.

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Big ticket items such as televisions, refrigerators and furniture can often be picked up for free on Freecycle. I picked up 3 seater and 2 seater lounges for free on Freecycle. It's like brand new. I also picked up a second hand second fridge for nothing from Freecycle. You really can get by on second hand, most of the time. I don't go second hand on everything, for example underwear, but in order to live within my means and enjoy most things most of the time, this is how I manage it.

ebay, Gumtree, Facebook and Craigslist are also wonderful options for searching for secondhand items as are yard sales and the classified ads in the newspaper. When the children were small, I got nearly all of their clothes as either hand-me-downs or from second hand sources. As they've got older (now 7 and 5) clothes aren't holding up to the rough and tumble so I look at end of season sales, in the next size up.

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Think about buying second hand next time. You never know what treasures you might find and they'll probably last a lot longer than what the things that are made nowadays do.

This post is part of domesblissity's THRiVING - Thrifty Living feature.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Walnut shortbread fingers

You know when you get in that mood to bake and you can't decide what you want to bake? Well, it's been missing for a while because of the heat but I always look to my pantry for inspiration (or the bottom of the crisper dish for fruit that's on it's way out). I'll always find nuts or coconut or dried fruit of some description in the pantry. I might even be lucky to find a couple rows of chocolate. (Might, I said.) I thought I had pecans and googled this recipe for an Easy 5 Minute Pecan Slice and easy (and 5 minutes) it was. Trouble was it was walnuts I had, not pecans. No problem.

Walnut Shortbread Fingers

125gm butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (or pecans or any other nuts you have)
small amount of chocolate (for drizzle)

  1. Mix dry ingredients together.
  2. Add melted butter and mix well.
  3. Press into a 30x25cm slice pan and bake at 180 deg C for approx 20 mins or until golden brown.
  4. Allow to cool.
  5. Drizzle with the smallest amount of chocolate, if desired.
  6. Slice into smaller 'finger' slices.

Slightly chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside and very buttery. Just like shortbread I reckon.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

How to display vintage cutlery

My grandmother passed away 13 years ago this year and one of the things I inherited was her vintage cutlery. It's probably not worth very much but it means so much to me. I've never used it but have had it stored away, always thinking of a way I could display it. My lovely next door neighbour asked if we wanted her old coffee table which housed her Mother's spoon collection. I had a light bulb moment and thought about my Nanna's cutlery. It fits perfectly.

It all needs a good polish, something I can do while I'm watching TV in the evenings. I love how all the spoons aren't perfectly round anymore, that their edges have been worn down over time, probably stirring gravies or custards or just from normal wear and tear. I wonder how old they really are?


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pinning & Singing: I'm writing my way back bureau

I was trying to be a little smart but finished up being a little dorky I think in my waxing lyrical Pinning and Singing post title this week. It was meant to be a play on the words by the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons song "Working My Way Back to You", one of my favourites. "The Jersey Boys" are finally coming to town and I've been dying to see it. I'm going to try and get there. I've always loved Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons since before Grease.

Anyway, enough about Frankie Valli. I've been wracking my brain on how I'd like to set up a home office. Unfortunately, I just don't have a spare room to set one up but I'd also like to set a work space up discreetly in our living area. I'm sure it wouldn't take long before the desk would become another dumping ground for school papers, junk mail etc etc. It got me thinking about the beautiful, antique bureau or secretaire.  Back in the days when letter writing was really the only way of communicating. Besides being a functional piece of furniture, it was often quite beautiful and, I think, an ideal piece of furniture to house a laptop, small printer and all the other bits and pieces that usually go in or on a desk. What do you think?

Source: via Sonja on Pinterest

Source: via Cat on Pinterest

Source: via Sky on Pinterest

Oh to be so lucky to find one of these. I might go scouring some of the second hand furniture stores. Wish me luck. Now onto the song. Have you seen "The Jersey Boys"?

I'm linking up with Natasha from 5 Minutes For Me and Tina Gray dot me.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Buying vs growing your own vegetables

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A lot has been written in various media for quite a while now on how easy it is and how much better for you it is to grow your own vegetables at home. In many ways I agree but, for me, it's totally unviable and not very economical.

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Raised garden beds, garden beds made from recycled materials, permaculture, organic gardening, companion planting, succession planting, saving seeds, etc etc are all terms I hear and read about all the time. I would love to eat nothing but fresh, homegrown produce but it's just not worth my while. 

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Don't get me wrong, if you've got the time, the resources and the people to eat all of this produce, then it might just be worth your while. My grandmother grew her own vegetables (and fruit) on her dairy farm and then also in retirement. Whatever she grew, she ate. There wasn't much she had to buy except for pantry staples. It was all there in her backyard. My mother tells me stories of how they'd eat green beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner (just kidding) but when the beans were in season, that's all they ate. I couldn't even get my children to hold a green bean.

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I'll grow a few herbs, which I know get used up in cooking meals, but I'll choose to buy my fruit and vegetables and strive to get the best value for money I know how.

Buy in season

Rather than menu plan and then buying what I need, I plan the meals I will cook based on what fruit and vegetables are in season. They will always be in great supply, in peak condition (hopefully) and, most importantly, cheap. Here are some websites to look up what and when will be in season.

Australia: Fruit & Vegetable Season List

New Zealand: What's in season?

USA: Interactive Peak Season Map at Epicurious

UK/Ireland: Eat the Seasons - What's good to eat this week? (Updated weekly)

Canada/USA: Eat the Seasons - What's good to eat this week?

Buy frozen

Look out for specials at your local supermarket or, when fruit and vegetables are in peak season and cheap, and you have the room, freeze them for use later. This is also to good to remember if you do happen to grow your own.  There is quite a lot of information on how to freeze and preserve vegetables and fruit on the internet but I found The National Center for Home Food Preservation in the USA has quite comprehensive information on freezing, canning, drying, smoking or pickling fruit and vegetables on their website.

Buy canned

Some people may argue that frozen vegetables are far superior than canned but some vegetables actually increase the phytochemical content of some foods, for example lycopene in canned tomatoes and the beta-carotene in canned carrots and pumpkin.  I use a lot of canned tomatoes and find they are full of flavour, cheap and easy to store. Canned beans and pulses such as lentils and chickpeas are a great standby as a source of protein.

In a family where I am the only one who eats capsicum, zucchinis, eggplant, varieties of lettuce, cucumber, beans, celery, silverbeet and spinach, just to name a few, I'll choose to buy a little when it's in season and use other seasonal vegetables in a way my family will eat them to get the most from my dollar.  I'm talking about pureeing the fruit or vegetables and adding them to muffins and cakes or using the puree in pasta sauces, curries, patties and any other deceptive way I can. I also just put them on my kid's plates and cross my fingers, sometimes with success.

No, that's not me. That's Martha. I find it hard to believe she gets her hands dirty.
As much as I love getting in the great outdoors and gardening, I'd prefer to spend my time in other ways rather than ensuring that all my hard efforts are being wasted in growing an abundance of vegetables that no one else will eat (except maybe the snails and grubs). I give full praise and credit to people who do grow their own and make it work for their family.

Some excellent resources to get you started on a home vegetable garden, should you so desire.

Gardenate - A worldwide resource to keep your kitchen garden growing and producing

Easy organic permaculture garden

Step by step no dig garden

Growing vegetables in pots

There is a lot of information out there on the internet and at your local library and hardware or garden centre.

This post is part of domesblissity's THRiVING - Thrifty Living feature.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thriving on Thursdays - Linky Party # 8

Welcome to another Thriving on Thursdays @ domesblissity. It's so nice of you to join me. If you've been a regular, welcome back. I really enjoy seeing what you've been up to each week. If you're new here, thanks so much for joining in. I really do hope you become a regular. I'm loving seeing what each and every one of you get up to and I'm always impressed by your originality and creativity. Here's the most viewed links from last week's party.

Post image for Drink This and Risk Stroke

The Real Food Forager posted an interesting article on drinking Diet Coke and associated risks of stroke. She always has interesting articles and I'm so glad all of you found this one of interest. I must admit I drink a bit of Diet Coke but I'll be thinking twice from now on. Thanks Jill for your interesting and valuable advice each week.

delicious breakfast cups with egg bacon cheese recipe

Sarah from Adventures of Our Fami-ly delighted us with her Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Cups. How good do they look? Besides being a great crafter, she's tempting us with these beautiful breakfast treats. Thanks Sarah for linking up each week.

Pam from Threading Your Way showed us how to align buttons. I've been wanting to do this for a while but just not clever enough to work it out. Thanks so much Pam. Obviously a few other people needed to know this as well.

Thanks again everyone for coming back each week. It's a real pleasure to have you. Now to this week.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

23 things to make from old t-shirts

Today, I am tackling my kid's wardrobes and culling their clothes right back to basics. I've been so very, very lucky to have received a lot of hand-me-downs for both of them over the years and I quite happily accept them. Probably when they were little and at home, I might've gone through 2 or 3 sets of clothes, espcially after meal times or toilet training mishaps. Now they are both at school, I'm finding they don't need as many clothes.

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For five days, they wear their school uniform, changing into play clothes when they get home and they might only have them on for an hour or so before bath time, so they wear them again for a couple days. It's cut back on washing and wear and tear on the clothes. So what am I going to do with all of these clothes? I'll give most of them away to friends and I'm thinking of making some of these things with the t-shirts.

Produce bags
Source: via Anne on Pinterest
Rainbow rug

Source: via Anne on Pinterest

Source: via Tami on Pinterest

Source: via riro on Pinterest


Downtown recycled t shirt necklace/RESERVED FOR Kfh04 Kfh04
Source: via Victoria on Pinterest

Baby nappy/diaper covers

Loop rug

I'd like to get started on one of those quilts especially to use up some of the kid's logo t-shirts from Kindergarten and some of those goofy slogan t-shirts like "Grandma told me to do it" or "Mummy is the best" or something. I'm having sewing machine withdrawls. It's been ages since I've sewn something because my machine has been on the blink. The next spare bit of money I get, it's going in for a service.

Hope you get some inspiration from some of these ideas. Thank you again Pinterest. You can follow me here.

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