Saturday, June 30, 2012

26 ways with empty toilet rolls

[photo source]

The humble empty toilet roll. The first official crafting item our children are given at home. A wonderful, small, cardboard tube that lets your children's imagination run wild. But wait? What's this I hear that some child minding establishments and schools are abolishing the use of collecting empty toilet rolls from home for crafting? What next? Oh well. Use them at home. I'm sure there's no more germs on an empty toilet roll as there is from one of your children's kisses. Try some of these ideas I pinned from Pinterest.
toilet roll cars

toilet roll Frankenstein

Toilet roll tubes 
collect toilet roll
Giraffe puppets

Gift tubes
Christmas characters
Advent calendar
Serviette rings
Scissors holder


Friday, June 29, 2012

Easy ways to dry your clothes

If only the sky was blue and my washing was flapping in the breeze like the photo above. I wouldn't know what it's like to rely on a clothes dryer to dry your clothes all the time as I live in a pretty warm climate and even on the coldest winter day, you can get your clothes dried on the outside line.

[photo source]
When my daughter was born, I couldn't wait to lovingly hang her gleaming white and pink tiny clothes and socks on the line. I would look at them and smile. When my boy came along it all came to an end. I was lucky to get the washing out of the machine with two days, let alone get it dry on the line or clothes dryer. The same still happens. I put it on in the morning, run a couple of errands, help out at school, pick the kids up from school, do homework, dinner etc and about 8pm at night I realise I've still got wet washing in the machine so in the dryer it goes.
Despite 'wasting' money on drying my clothes in the dryer, it has been a God send since I've had children and when we have a bout of wet weather (like now). According to one of the electricity suppliers in Australia, an average 5kg clothes dryer costs approximately 51 cents per hour to run. I figure if I dry one load of smalls 3 times per week, I'm only using $1.53 per week, $79.56 per year. Not all that much really. There is the harm to the environment etc etc, but for the sake of my sanity and getting clothes dry, I'll happily part with $80 a year to dry my clothes. In the summer months its less often because even if its raining, it's still warm and you can get clothes dry under shelter. Besides hanging thin rope from the rafters or draping clothes over chairs in the living room near heaters (which I know nothing about and don't approve of), here are a few other options for hanging clothes.

[Clothes drying rack]

[Indoor drying rack made from side of baby crib or playpen]
Have a good rummage around op shops, yard sales, car boot sales or salvage yards for suitable hanging material to mount either outside under cover or inside the laundry to help dry those clothes. I know I'll be stuck when the kids get bigger but while they're in smaller sizes, I'll sacrifice my $79 for the year.

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


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thriving on Thursdays - Linky Party # 25


As I write this, I'm counting down the minutes until the kids are in bed and I can shortly follow. They were so nice in sharing their germs with me I now have a dreaded cold. Couldn't come at a worse time with dark, gloomy weather here in Queensland and rain since the weekend. Not a very good start to the school holidays, not that we had much planned. The kids are still getting over their colds and have kept themselves amused.  Anyway, hopefully I'll be better soon and on to this week's Thriving on Thursdays linky party. Here's the most hit, non food related links from last week. Thanks everyone for linking up.

Check out this gorgeous tote bag made from a t-shirt from Anita at Aunt Nubby's Kitchen. Isn't it the most gorgeous shade of purple? I'm always looking at ways to preserve a souvenier t-shirt and this is great. Thanks so much Anita.

And how about this outdoor bar from Barb at Turtles and Tails? I could really go for some outdoor entertaining in the warmth and sunshine. I'm so over winter already. Only 2 months to go and we'll be back in the warmth. Thanks Barb for linking up this fantastic idea.

Honey Onion Cough Syrup

This couldn't come at a better time thanks Sam from The Klutzy Kook. Check out some of these fabulous home remedies for colds and flus. I've got the kettle on now to make one of these hot lemon drinks. Thanks Sam for linking up. (Isn't the weather here in Brisbane just awful at the moment?)



Thank you so much for everyone linking up this week. The standard of blog posts is just amazing and I'm continually blown away by the originality and creativeness of the ideas. Feel free to grab a 'featured' button if you like. Now, on to this week's party. The party will close on Sunday night (at around 8:30pm Brisbane time) and I will upload all of the recipes linked up that night, to help with menu planning.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ricotta topped beef, lentil & spinach lasagna

Doesn't matter whether it's summer, winter, spring or fall, I can eat Italian food. Any kind. But nothing conjures up wholesome, heart warming winter food that a big bowl of pasta or a big slice of lasagna with obligatory bechamel topping. It's not lasagna without bechamel as far as I'm concerned but my hips are telling me different and the way I've always eaten it so I decided to try to reduce the calories in my typical lasagna.

I don't believe the meat sauce is ever high in calories but I bulk it out a bit with lentils if I don't have much beef mince and with the addition of spinach, I added a bit of fibre and extra nutrients.

Okay, so it wasn't as good as a bechamel topped lasagna but still really yummy all the same. I've got a freezer full now for quick lunches and dinners too.

Ricotta topped Beef, Lentil & Spinach Lasagna

250gm beef mince (ground beef)
1/2 cup dried red lentils, rinsed well
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs dried basil
1 tbs dried oregano
1/2 bunch spinach/silverbeet (or 2 cubes frozen spinach)
1 tin diced tinned tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
2 tbs tomato paste
extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
instant lasagna sheets
300gm low fat ricotta cheese
2 tbs mozarella/cheddar cheese

  1. Brown onion in a little EVOO until softened. Add mince and brown. Add garlic.
  2. Add tomato paste. Fry off for 1 minute.
  3. Add dried herbs, lentils, stock, tinned tomatoes and cook for 30 mins (or until lentils are soft).
  4. Add some meat sauce to bottom of baking dish. Forms layers of pasta and meat sauce until finished.
  5. Top with ricotta cheese and a sprinkling of mozarella/cheddar cheese.
  6. Bake in a 180 deg C (375 deg F) oven for approx 25 mins or until golden on top. Allow to sit for 10 mins before serving.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Easy 2 ingredient chocolate fudge

WARNING: Do not read this blog post if you don't want to find the easiest, most decadent fudge to make with only 2 ingredients! It's not my idea, so don't blame me! I will not be responsible for excess calorie intake or over indulgence.

I pinned this recipe I saw on Pinterest for 2 ingredient fudge a while ago. I thought hmmpf, that looks easy enough but what on earth would it taste like? and didn't think about it anymore (like many things I pin from Pinterest). My sister's birthday was last week and I usually like to make a batch of sweets for her. Something like fudge, caramel or brittle. I had an 'a-ha' moment and I remembered the fudge recipe I pinned. I was, after all, running out of time as the week was drawing to an end and wanted to get this stuff made as soon as possible.

Two words people: frosting and chocolate! That's it! Sorry if you've heard about it before but I couldn't believe how easy this was. No worrying about melting chocolate and sugar or condensed milk and stirring, stirring, stirring (even though there's nothing wrong with that - I quite like the taste of that fudge). But if you want to put together a quick gift in next to no time, and your friends will think you've been slaving away over a hot stove, try this one. Yeah, okay, its sickly sweet and gooey and fudgey and all those wonderful things, but all in moderation, hey?

Melt 450gm of milk chocolate buttons (use white chocolate if you're using the white ready made frosting).

Mix in the entire contents of a can of chocolate frosting and mix well. Work quickly as the room temperature of the frosting will begin to set the melted chocolate.

Add nuts (I added walnuts to both the mixture and on top), dried fruit, marshmallows or anything else you'd like and spread in a slice pan (20cm x 18cm) or similar. Allow to set in the fridge.

Cut into squares and try not to eat too much before you pack into a gift box.

My sister didn't want to know what was in it but she said it was very rich and very nice.

As I said, don't blame me. It's not my fault. Blame Shelly from Cookies & Cups. This is where I pinned the original idea from. Obviously, in the US they have strawberry flavoured cans of frosting and she mixed white chocolate with hers. Doesn't it look gorgeous? Shelly, I'm not sure whether to love you or loathe you? At least I won't be stuck for a last minute gift idea again as long as I've got a can of Mrs C nearby.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Only 6 months to Christmas (+ Christmas planners)

Okay, okay. I'm sorry. I can hear you all saying "oh, be quiet Anne" (or words to that affect) but it's true! As Santa is sharpening his tools and the major department stores are sending out their mid year toy sale catalogues, it might be time to take stock and work out a budget for Christmas spending, Christmas party planning and gift making.

[photo source]
The end of the year is always going to be a busy time for me with both of my children's birthdays in November. It also coincides with the end of the school year so that means teacher's presents as well as birthday party organising. After this year birthdays will be every second year for my daughter and then by the time my son is 8, he'll be the same.

[photo source]
I always find I get a little flustered around this time of year. Who doesn't? But I want to make sure that I don't leave it until the last minute and starting to schedule a few tasks now. Nothing wrong with writing a few Christmas cards, planning the birthday parties, presents (for both kid's birthdays and Christmas), looking at when school break up is and planning teacher's gifts, organising a family get together and a small Christmas holiday.

EH Christmas Planner
[photo source]
Here are a few online Christmas planners to use a little bit closer to Christmas but get started scheduling a few things on your calendar and diary, getting the kids to make their wish lists, Santa letters and Christmas decorating ideas. It'll be here soon enough!

There are many more Christmas planning printables on the web, plus gift lists, gift tags, Christmas card printables and plenty of ideas for making your own gifts. Make it your goal to spend as little as possible this Christmas. It's quite challenging but well worth it in the end.

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