Saturday, February 20, 2021

Around here

Not much has been happening around here with my teenagers pretty well having their own social lives and working part time.  It's been a big transition of letting go and one that I am learning to adjust to every day.  I do miss the days of being in charge of our outings and spending time with them however I have raised them to be independent confident young people and that's what they are now.  My son finishes high school at the end of this year and my daughter will have another 2 years after that.  It seems like only yesterday I was walking them into their prep classrooms.  Bittersweet is a word that comes to mind.

Not having them around to be in my photos and not wanting to be in any photos anymore is also a big adjustment for me because my photography is my happy place.  I'm starting a 2 week online lighting course which I've been trying to get into for 4 years as it sells out in 2 minutes and the registration time is 2.00 am Australian time.  I'm more than prepared to stay up or wake up at that time if I thought I had a chance of actually getting in, however within 1-2 minutes the seats are sold so out.  This last round you could put your name down on a list and 10 people would be randomly selected to get into the course before the registrations.   I had nothing to lose so I put my name down and I was so excited to be picked to secure a seat so I didn't have to wake up in the middle of the night and miss out again.  Not sure how I'm going to go with no one to photograph in beautiful light, so I'll just have to see how I go.  I am very pleased to be able to do this online course after wanting to do it for 4 years and I like to do one photography related course a year.

Here's a few things around on the internet at the moment.

I came across Sustainable Holly's website and here is a great post on being sustainable.  Here is another post on Natural Pest Management.

How "Burning Desire for Fire" started her "no spend days" and gave herself a coloured box if she didn't spend any money for 3-4 days of the week.

Home Grown Happiness Sourdough Recipe and timing of her process.

Emma from A Simple Living Journey answers all the questions about importing a Yurt into Australia and her family living in it on their 265 acre farm in NSW.

One of my favourite blogs Tales from a Happy House and her new yearly embroidery and this beautiful collection from January.

My new "Lunch Box Edition" of Additive Free Lifestyle Cook Book has been posted to me and I can't wait to get it.  The girls recipes are so simple and all the family favourites without nasty additives or preservatives. 

My friend grew this little pumpkin and gifted it to me.  I've never grown pumpkins myself so I was excited to receive this and I can't wait to roast some for dinner this week.

I ordered the beautiful hardcopy of Susan's Big Patch Quilt.  I purchased the PDF pattern last year and started my quilt and had to put it aside to attend to family health issues.  I need to get back to quilting this and putting a binding on.  If you have never done any patchwork this is a great starter quilt and if you can sew a straight line you can make this quilt.  Susan has the most impeccable taste and talent mixing her fabrics together which makes these quilts.  Here's my post from August when I put together my quilt.

Home made sausage rolls and salad for dinner.

Sold an item on Facebook Market Place so this is going straight into savings.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Around here - Finance

It's time to get a coffee and have a good read as it's the beginning of the year it's always a good idea to revisit your budget.  I wish I knew all of this stuff when I was 20 or 25 however I still love all things finance.  I have tracked my spending for the past 20 years, firstly in a paper based system and then for many years in an excel spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet tabs are all linked and I balance them back to my bank accounts.  For years I have spoken to the kids about finance and explaining about buying a pair of jeans for $50 cash or $50 on a credit card and explaining the difference and the fact that the credit card purchase costs more than $50. 

A few years ago I got the Barefoot Investor for Families and the kids, in their teens then put on a family dinner party for 7 for a budget of $50. They had to look up online prices of the groceries, check the pantry and then work out how to have a 3 course dinner for $50, buy it themselves, cook it and serve it.  They absolutely loved the whole event and we loved being waited on all evening.

This was my post in January 2020 about budgeting and cutting back on my food budget.

This is my finance post for January 2018 [posted on the last day of 2017]

This was my post from January 2016 which has the big explanation of my excel budget spreadsheet and how I run it.

The simplistic version of a budget it to spend less than you earn, and when put like that it seems like a simple thing to master so why do so many people are scared of the word budget as they think deprivation.  Burying your head in the sand is not the answer and knowing where you are spending your money gives you control.  Even if you are in credit card debt, it's not going to go away by itself.  You need to start paying it off, sell unused items in your home on buy, sell groups and put the money straight onto the credit card debt.  The debt is money you have spent however not earned yet and the pain comes from having to start paying it off.

These days with the "after pay" popularity it encourages people to buy things they don't have the money for yet.  ie spending next weeks pay before you earn it.  If used wisely, I'm sure it is a great thing however it does encourage the "I want it now even though I don't have the money and then that form of spending can very easily get out of control".

Have you heard of the FIRE Community?  It stands for Financially Independent Retire Early.

Going back to spend less than you earn, the Fire Community try and save as much as they can by being frugal and having goals and being committed to a better financial future.  Some save as much as 50% of their earnings or even more.  So with a two person income family they might budget to spend one of them and the other one they would invest all the money.   In the Barefoot Investor he talks about saving firstly your MOJO account or in other words an emergency fund.  That can be as little as $2,000 for emergencies, the car breaks down, the fridge breaks etc.  Having an emergency fund with at least 3 months expenses and preferably 6 months.  So if you need $4,000 per month for your mortgage, food, petrol, bills, entertainment etc. firstly save up $12,000 and leave it in a savings account not to be touched unless for an emergency.  This doesn't include deciding to go away for the weekend or a holiday it is purely to get you through 3 months of expenditure should something happen.  Having six months ie $24,000 would be better however depending on your income and expenditure this is a lot for the average family.

No one thinks an emergency that would require $24,000 would happen, until a pandemic came along and people lost their jobs.  Worrying about paying the mortgage or rent and putting food on the table is stressful however imagine that money was sitting there and while everyone else was worried sick and not sleeping at night, you knew you could get by for 3, 6 or 12 months.  You can't buy that peace of mind.  A lot of people lost their jobs, and just about everybody you know, knows someone that lost their job.  Who would have thought that no planes would be flying, shopped closed, people working from home.  Australia has been so lucky in terms of the cases we have had compared to the rest of the world however many many Australians lost their jobs and businesses have closed.

Going back to the Fire Community, working hard to get ahead financially using investing and compound interest and being frugal.  Keeping up with the Jones is not part of the Fire Community they have a mission to be financially secure well before retirement age.  It doesn't mean that they sit on a beach for the rest of their lives and don't work, it means they do not have to worry about money and they can enjoy part time work, pursue a hobby, do community work or travel.  

This is Burning Desire for Fire who has just retired as a teacher 10 years early.

Family on Fire on the way to financial freedom.

A post on wealth and it's not all about money.

Even thought it's the 2nd of February, 2021 it looks like most January's I do a post on finance.

This is a post from February, 2020 that also might be of interest to you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Around here - Carrot Cake

In my last post I mentioned I was making this Carrot Cake today as I had a few extra carrots in the fridge.  We ate half of the cake and I gave my very good neighbours the other half along with a dozen eggs.  My neighbour mows my footpath when he does his every week and also trims all my hedges at the front as well.  They are such a lovely family and always keep an eye out for us.  Having good neighbours is worth their weight in gold.  This cake was easy to make and would freeze well for later on if you didn't want to eat it on the one day and/or could be put in the fridge in a container too.

CARROT CAKE [Recipe link here]
  • 1/2 cup Canola or Olive Oil [I used Olive Oil]
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 3 cups Carrot (grated)
  • 1 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 cup Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Mixed Spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped Walnuts (optional)

CREAM CHEESE ICING [I used the Thermomix Carrot Cake icing recipe]

  • 100gms Cream Cheese
  • 50gms unsalted butter
  • 230gms Icing Sugar
  • Chopped Walnuts to decorate (optional)

Preheat Oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place the oil and eggs into a large bowl and whisk.

Then add grated carrot and mix through.

Sift the following into the wet mixture, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.  Add chopped up walnuts now if using them.  Stir until evenly combined.

Line a 23cm tin, pour in the batter and bake 25-35 mins. [I cooked mine for 35 minutes]

Once it’s cooled beat your cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar with a hand mixer until it’s smooth.  I made my icing in the Thermomix - place cream cheese, unsalted butter and icing sugar into the Thermomix on Speed 9 for 20 seconds.

Ice your cake and decorate with the chopped walnuts. Place it into the fridge in a sealed container and you will have something lovely to enjoy for the next few days or weeks.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Around here - Self Crusting Corn Quiche

The other day I found this recipe on The Heart of the Home blog from Queensland and decided to make it for dinner.  It was super easy and it tastes delicious.  It's not as heavy as having a pastry base and I thought it might be a good recipe for school lunch boxes since school starts back on Wednesday.  I'm also making the Carrot Cake recipe today so I'll let you know how it goes.


4 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of Self Raising Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
425gms can Creamed Corn
1.5 cups of grated Tasty Cheese
1/2 Red Capsicum
Shallots or Onion [I uses shallots/spring onions]
Bacon Rashers [2-3] or ham [I used a combination of both]

Heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius

Chop up capsicum, shallots and bacon and fry them off in a pan.  Set aside to cool.

Place the eggs, milk, Self Raising Flour and Salt into a bowl and stir.

Stir in creamed corn and grated cheese and add the cooled mixture of capsicum, shallots and bacon to the bowl and mix together.

Pour into quiche dish or lamington tray [20-23 cm in size].

Bake for 20-30 minutes until centre is firm.  I baked mine for 30 minutes.

Serve warm or cold with salad.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Around here - Home Made Wraps

We have been making home made wraps using a recipe using yoghurt from the "Down to Earth" book for a long time now however the recipe I made today is just plain flour, baking powder, salt, coconut oil or butter and water.

You know how much I love Tracey & Jo's recipes from Additive Free Lifestyle so today for lunch I decided to make some home made wraps using their recipe.  Wraps are so easy to make and these were so nice.  The tip is as you make them pop them into a tea towel and cover them up so they will stay soft instead of going hard.  They can also be frozen as well and I have put some freezer paper in between them so I can take one out at a time if I need too.  As it was just me at home I made a half batch of 6 wraps and then I had one for lunch with ham and salad and OMG it was so soft and fresh.  So simple and I can highly recommend this recipe.  I also have some baby spinach in the fridge so I might try and make these spinach ones too.

You can make them yourself using 6 ingredients or take a look at the spinach wraps you find in the supermarket...look at this ingredient list for Spinach Wraps.

You will notice that the reason they are green is from a combination of blue and yellow food colour and they use spinach ‘seasoning’ (no real spinach!)

Ingredients: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Vegetable Shortening (Interesterified Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and/or Palm Oil), contains 2% or less of each of the following: Seasoning (Spinach Powder, Onion Powder, Spice, Salt, Garlic Powder, Soybean Oil, Artificial Colors [FD&C Yellow #5 Lake and FD&C Blue #1 Lake], Natural and Artificial Flavor), Salt, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate and/or Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Calcium Sulfate), Distilled Monoglycerides, Enzymes, Wheat Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Antioxidants (Tocopherols, Ascorbic Acid), Vital Wheat Gluten, Cellulose Gum, Dough Conditioners (Fumaric Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite), Preservatives (Calcium Propionate, Sorbic Acid and/or Citric Acid).

Below are my home made wraps I made for lunch today, very satisfying.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Around here

I live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and it's a sub-tropical environment where we can grow veggies all year long and we don't get any morning frosts either.

I have been reading Heather's blog from North Ridge Farm again and she and her husband now live in Vermont and their grown up daughter lives away.  I was reading Heather's former blog years and years ago.  In other places in the world they get snowed in for months at a time and I can see the need for stock piling and canning when you can't have a vegetable garden or get to the shops.  I have two major supermarkets 2 kms to the right of our home and 2 major supermarkets 2kms to the left of our home so I don't need to stockpile much for summer or winter.  We have an organic farmers market about 20 minutes from where we live which are open on Sundays and also another farmers market open on Saturdays although not organic it is a fresh fruit and veggie market.  The image below is from Heather's "about page".   You can also do her online courses which are self paced.

Heathers former blog was called Beauty that Moves and she now blogs at North Ridge Farm.  Her home and environment screams home made, nourishing, cosy and you just want to be there.  Her abundance of homegrown and home made food is wonderful and I love all her photos.  When I see all of Heather's produce photos it makes me want to get stuck into my veggie garden that I have neglected over the past 6 months.  You can follow her on Instagram here.

Here in Australia [although they are now living in Italy] Matt & Lentil have written two amazing books on growing food and cooking from scratch.  Their first book called "Grown & Gathered" is amazing and their second book "The Village" was written after they spent some time in Italy.  I've got both of their books and can highly recommend them.  Their blog has some great recipes and beautiful photographs.  They started with a small house and parcel on land on Matt's Dad's property in Victoria and grew veggies and flowers and instead of selling the flowers they created the Flower Exchange Project.  I love their passion for home grown and home made.  They are now living experiencing Italian life as much as they can due to lockdowns.  They have a small vineyard which they purchased and I just read an article this morning how this came about and I can't find it to link it.  If I do I'll come back and update it as it was great.

Here's a few recent photos from around here.

Sienna made a spinach and feta tart for dinner including making the pastry from scratch which was delicious.  I was very impressed.

Roast chicken for dinner..didn't have any greens to go with it however I'm really good at making homemade gravy now and it tastes delicious.

Threw all the chicken bones and onions from the roast chicken into the slow cooker overnight to make chicken stock.

Four jars of homemade chicken stock are now in the good is "free food".

Made some sticky buns however wasn't too keen on this recipe so I'll try another one next time.

Sticky buns.

Looks like I need to clean my driveway again.

Yesterday afternoon storm clouds rolling in however we only got about 5 mins of rain.

Looking towards the bottom of our street with the storm clouds.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Around here

Brisbane has just come out of a snap 3 day lockdown which was sparked by a cleaner from a Quarantine Hotel contracting the very contagious UK strain of the Coronavirus.  It was a rainy weekend so it was nice to be inside and it was the first weekend after my sister was here when we were out and about every day so I didn't mind a quiet weekend.  I was going to have my friend's dog Billy for the week and my sister was due to come over and have a coffee and help me take down the Christmas Tree and decorations.  Both of those things didn't happen and it wasn't a big deal, not like someone who was perhaps getting married on the Saturday who the lockdown would have been huge.  I really support our Chief Health Officer and Premier looking after the welfare of Queenslanders.  I feel so lucky to be Australian and it's really scary what is still happening overseas. 

As you know my sister came to visit and see my Mum and she flew back to Perth on the 4th January and then on the Wednesday she got the message that she had to get a Covid test and isolate for 14 days at home because the Western Australia Premier declared Greater Brisbane a hot spot. She is not a home body so is finding it hard although her house is getting a good declutter so that's a good thing.  Whilst she was here we didn't go to any major shopping centers and we live on the Northside of Brisbane so no where near where the UK strain was detected.  It was a bit of a shock to her when she found she had to isolate as when we went into lockdown we thought her visit was well timed because she was back in Perth.  All of this is totally understandable and not having to do that in a hotel with the expense is a good thing.  This is life in 2021 and as I mentioned, 2020 and 2021 are going to be much the same even though everyone wanted to put 2020 behind them.  This is life in a Pandemic and it can turn in an instant however we are living a pretty great life regardless.

On Sunday morning I was at the grocery shops at 9.00 am to do a big food shop since the holidays as I had nothing in the fridge and with the panic buying on Friday in Brisbane I decided to wait until Sunday morning and make do with the little I had at home.  I made Tahini Granola, Jam Drops, Yoghurt, Beef Stroganoff and Lentil Bolognese.  Now I've got a few things in the freezer as I had let everything run down before Christmas.

With January always comes thoughts about how to reduce expenses and whist my food budget is reasonable and smaller than it was a few years ago I want to see if I can shave some more $$ off my weekly spend and put the extra money into my emergency fund.  Even if it's $25 a week that would be $100 extra a month into the emergency fund.

You know I am a huge fan of Tracey & Jo, the sisters from Tasmania who are behind the Additive Free Lifestyle  which is all about cooking from scratch and removing unnecessary additives and preservatives in our food.  The girls have launched a Lunch Box edition cookbook which is fantastic.  It's a pre-launch which means you purchase it now and it will be released in March however with the pre-release you get the E-book version sent to you so you can start cooking now.  I can say this book is equally as good as their first book.  When you think lunches most Mum's think "school lunches" however I can say these recipes are fantastic for at home lunches, work lunches or school lunches.  I can highly recommend this book, their website and their story and mission.  Anyone that has ever worked away from home knows how much money can be wasted on morning tea and lunch if you aren't organized.  Lunches can sometimes get boring at the best of times having the same sandwich however you will be inspired by the lunches, snacks and dips etc. in this book.