Friday, July 12, 2019

Around here

Around here it is the end of the Queensland School holidays and apparently next week it is going to be 8 degrees in the mornings.  We are lucky in Brisbane that it doesn't get as cold as down South however 8 degrees is cold for us.  As you can see from the photos below my kids still wear shorts in the middle of I'm in long pants and jackets.

We had a lovely first week going to Maleny Bird World to the Aviary which was fantastic.  Last time we went was in March 2015 and there was one huge Aviary and now there are 3 all joined together.  It's such an amazing experience to hold these birds.  When we walked in one bird jumped onto James shoe and was on there for over 5 minutes trying to get his shoelace undone.  Then the big Macaw that was on Sienna's shoulder grabbed her tie on her jacket and removed the silver thing on the end of the tie so don't wear your best clothing and you have to take your earings out and no jewellery.

When we arrived at reception you could get your photo taken with about 10 birds that just hang out on the perches at reception not in actual cages.  This was new since we were there last time and that was very cool and a fun thing to do.  You have to book into the bird aviary tours which sell out fast so we booked on line and booked for an 11.30 am viewing.  They run every 15 minutes [don't quote me on that] however usually every tour is booked out so booking on line before you go is a must if you want to get in at your preferred time.

This is a photo of the kids when we went in March 2015.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Around Here

Around here it's the start of the Queensland School Holidays and I'm looking forward to having some extra time with my kids.  This year we have four 10 week terms however this term seemed extra long for some reason.  We have had a fair bit of rain this week so everything is looking green and extra bushy.

My veggie garden is a bit empty at the moment so I need to get some more planting done this weekend so as to not waste the space with nothing in it.  The little veggie garden has brought me so much joy just popping out to the garden to get 1-2 spring onions to pop in with the mashed potatoes or grab some basil or coriander to go on top of our meal.  The beans are finished now and they were so easy to grow so will definitely plant those again.  My chickens are all laying now so having 3 fresh eggs a day has been a real treat.

I was so excited to win a $250 Woollies grocery voucher last week from our local shopping centre. There were daily prizes to be won in June.  All you had to do was to spend $30 at Woollies or $10 at a specialty store.  I had two dockets and went on line to enter the competion and half way through realized you had to upload a photo of your docket which is a whole another thing which I couldn't be bothered with [mostly because my computer is playing up and I couldn't easily get it going] so I put the dockets aside because I couldn't be bothered.  Later that night I thought if I can't be bothered, maybe others can't be bothered as well so I took a photo of the dockets loaded up the software got my photos and went back on line and entered all the info.  A few days later I got a message on my phone to say I had won a $250 voucher and to come to Centre Management and collect it.  OMG I was so excited and with school holidays here with the kids home we always spend more on groceries so now I have the extra money and I won't need to borrow any from my bills fund.  It was very exciting for me and having grocery money for me is way more important than say a voucher for clothes or decor items. I'm so grateful for the Gift Voucher. and I also entered again so I'm sure I can win another voucher before it ends tomorrow evening.

I don't have any photos to post at the moment as they are on my old computer and I'm having trouble accessing it at the moment so for now I have one photo of my "Week in the Life" book which arrived yesterday.  I print my books through Blurb and love their quality.  This project is very near and dear to my heart where you document a 7 day period in your life once a year.  Things change, interests change, sometimes you move schools, house etc. and by documenting these things from one year to the next you really capture what it's like in your life in any given year.  This is my 12th year doing this project which Ali Edwards created.  She runs the project once a year and depending on her work schedule it can be at different times of the year.  It so happens that in 2018 and 2019 it was the same week which included Mother's Day in Australia.   It's always a treat to include that special day and the cards my kids give me including them making me breakfast in bed of waffles and ice cream.

In the last couple of weeks I have seen a lot of Instagram stories of younger Mum's with small kids getting on the "simple living" bandwagon.  I think it's great and it's funny how those things come in waves all of a sudden.  A quote from one of the Mum's [IG Finding Harmony] said "Convenience is the thief of experiences" and this is so true....growing a small veggie garden in the back yard and picking the items to cook for dinner is an experience which brings joy.  Ordering Uber Eats and having the same meal would not bring the same experience or joy, not even counting for the money side of things.  Learning how to make home made pasta as a family or home made pizza dough brings an experience for you and your children and with that memories.  

We all know that "slow living" or "simple living" is not easy because if you want pizza sauce you have to make it and therefore it takes time and a big kitchen clean up afterwards however the flip side is when you eat that pizza with that homemade sauce it brings such joy [well for me anyway it makes me happy that I made it, it's fresh and has no chemicals and it tastes truly amazing].  If you want to live on property and have animals you have to tend to the animals water and food and mow that expansive lawn so whilst it brings more work, it also brings more rewards and joy.  

The other thing that's going around is the Barefoot Investor book and the Barefoot Investor for Families.  These are absolutely two books that every person should read as they are life changing.  Whilst it's has the word "investor" in the title it's all about managing your money, getting the best out of your home loans, bank accounts, insurances, saving money for a rainy day [aka mojo account] ie 6 months of living expenses as people lose their jobs and if you have a mojo account whilst being without a job you can put food on the table, pay your mortgage and concentrate on getting another job which is already a stressful situation.  Add to that you had no money to keep things afloat and life can get extremely stressful for families.

I wrote about it here where my kids put on a family dinner party for 7 people with a budget of $50.  They had to work out a menu, check the pantry, go online to see what things cost to buy that was on their shopping list and then I took them to the shops and they had to walk around and find all the items themselves.  They 150% loved doing this.  Both of them are good cooks and make breakfast, lunches and snacks and bake however teaching them to cook main meals and shopping with a certain amount of money added another huge valuable lesson for them.

I love budgeting, I love numbers, I love spreadsheets and I love having my money organized and have done so for years.  Early in my adulthood I didn't have it all sorted however once I did, I never looked back.  

Years and years ago I helped a friend of mine with her budgeting when she felt things had gotten out of control.  One thing I did was to get her to buy a carton of diet coke from the supermarket and take her one drink to work everyday instead of buying it at the local lunch/sandwich bar.  Lets say she bought a carton with 24 cans and it was $20 [you can actually get them on sale for $16 now however we will stick with $20 for this].  If she paid $2.50 per can at the sandwich bar and bought 24 cans it would cost $60.  So buy swapping to the supermarket bulk pack she saved $40 without giving up her can of soft drink she had at lunch time.  So she hasn't had to sacrifice giving up her drink yet she was able to save $40 and lets say she had a can a day over one month that could be 2 cartons from the supermarket and saving $80 which could go towards paying off her credit cards.

I also read this article this week and it just goes to show budgeting is not scary and in fact it gives you more control to do what you want with your hard earned money.  Outside you mortgage, food is a pretty significant cost to families.  If you spend $300 a week on food that's $1,200 a month.  If you spend $350 a week on food that's $1,400 a month.  If you cut your food down to $200 a week that's only $800 a month.  So cutting the weekly food bill from $350 per week to $200 per week you can save $600. You could pay off debt or put that into your mortgage and save thousands over the course of the loan.  You could also save it for a family vacation or invest it or put it into your mojo account.

I love that it appears that this simple living and trying to be more sustainable is catching on to younger families.  Zero waste is impossible in today's modern world however I believe in everyone doing their little bit and collectively we will be better off.  The Marie Kondo which took off here in Australia in January high lighted to people that we do have too much stuff and that it's okay to let go of some of that stuff.  I think the hardest part is letting go of things that there is nothing wrong with them when you have paid good money for them....letting go of things makes us feel lighter.  Once we realize this we don't spend money to buy the latest fashions or decor and therefore we don't need as much money.  Op shopping is so in and not considered to be beneath people and finding great buys at the op shops becomes a bit of a challenge to bargain hunt.  I recently wanted a big casserole type of pan so we went to the op shop and I got exactly the one I was looking for all for $6.50.  I've used it heaps of times and it has been perfect.  

So it's great to see families are getting behind growing some food in their suburban back yard and making more food from scratch.  It's also amazing for little kids to learn this stuff as well which is how I have raised my kids.  I hope you all enjoy the school holidays if you have them and this beautiful Winter weather in Queensland.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Around here

Around here we are at the tail end of the weekend with a rainy day on Saturday and a beautiful sunny day today.  Only 3 more weeks of school before the holidays and lazy mornings at home which is always nice to look forward to.  Our 3 chickens are laying eggs everyday and I'm loving having fresh eggs on hand.  Not so much the chicken that keeps escaping under the fence or over the fence which is driving me nuts.  I do not want chicken poo near my entertainment area or want the chicken in the veggie patch so the struggle is real....keeping that chicken in.  The other two happily stay in their fenced off area.

This morning Sienna and I did a DIY workshop on how to make lip balm and a body perfume at Biome at Paddington.  They also have stores at Indooroopilly, City and Balmoral in Brisbane.  It's a beautiful store with lots of Eco friendly items to purchase and/or learn how to make your own make up, skin care products and house hold cleaning items.  The workshop was $20 per person and you got to take away 3 little jars of lip balm each.  You could make lip balm and/or perfume using essential oils.  The class is very popular and there were 16 people around the table today.  The workshop space is beautiful and we both had a lovely morning.

This is a list of recipes you can make they have on their website that you can make at home.   You can bring your own jars in and purchase ingredients to make them just like a bulk food store.  These places are becoming more and more popular and the DIY of home cleaning products etc. are becoming more important as we move away from cheap and nasty chemical cleaners.  They also sell a lot of things for your DIY like bottles and sprays etc.  If you get a chance to visit one of their stores or do a workshop I can highly recommend it.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Around here

Last night we finished off the 7 day challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We do a lot of cooking from scratch however this was a whole other level of knowledge about making our food even better.

Yesterday I made some home made spreadable butter which took about 5 minutes.  I made it in the Thermomix however it can be made in a normal food processor.  So quick and simple.

During the webinar last night I learnt that there is more than one name for MSG [at least 129] and where food says no added MSG could mean it's already there under a different name.  I know my Mum reacts badly to MSG and that dates back to take away Chinese food.  These days even our local Chinese food shop advertised no MSG on the front of the shop so I assume none is used.   Monosodium Gultamate [MSG] is a flavour enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats.   This is a list of some of the things that MSG can react in people.  One of the ladies in the webinar last night said that after Chinese food her lips and mouth go numb and tingling.

Facial pressure or tightness
Numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck or other areas
Rapid fluttering heartbeats
Chest pain

If you were trying to avoid MSG, naturally you would be looking for MSG on the label and if it's not there you may think it's safe.  This is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald referring to 129 names you need to avoid in order to avoid MSG.  It's a mind field.  Just take a look at this list below which is from the article so to see it up close click on the link above for a more clearer picture.

In the webinar Tracey & Jo went through what could be a normal day's food and they put a post it note on the wall for every preservative they found.  So the typical day was cereal in a box, wrap with ham, a Tim Tam for afternoon tea and roast chicken and a packet of noodles for dinner.  This was just an example and obviously there may be salad on the wrap and fruit for afternoon tea as well.  In just that little scenario there were 30 preservatives or numbers in that one days worth of food.  Again it wasn't junk food or take away food and could be considered a relatively healthy day of food.  We can avoid these things if you know how to swap them or make them.  No one is suggesting you never have a Tim Tam because we know that Tim Tams are really a treat and you wouldn't be eating them every day so that's not a problem.  It's being armed with the information so that you can make more informed decisions for your family when making or purchasing goods from the supermarket.  

I've enrolled in the 30 day course that starts on the 17th June and the course is open for another 30 days after the finish so if you want to go over the course material or life gets busy or you are away on holidays you have time to get through the information.  Approximately 2 hrs per week and you don't have to do it in one block of time you can watch a video interview while you are cooking dinner.  If you don't want to do the course there is lots of free information and recipes on their website as as mentioned in my original post you only have to listen to the 7 day challenge podcasts and you might think differently about wanting to learn how to avoid these things. Knowledge is power and then you have the option to choose for yourself when shopping.

At the end of the day food is food and the less processed the better for our health of ourselves and our loved ones.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Around Here

Following on from my earlier post about the 7 Day Challenge with Additive Free Lifestyle I have been whipping up a storm in the kitchen.  These are the things I have made in the last couple of days.

This "Easy BBQ Sauce" recipe, and I can tell you the smell and flavour and taste is amazing and it only took me 30 minutes to make it.  The recipe has Thermomix instructions along with normal stove top instructions so anyone can make it. OMG you have to try this.  No more store bought stuff for us.

I then made the "Pizza Sauce with hidden veggies" next.  I used up whatever veggies I had in the fridge and didn't go to the shops so I didn't use broccoli or cauliflower however I chopped up beans and spring onions and fresh thyme from the garden. OMG again this is delicious.  I used some of this on our home made pizza last night.

BBQ Sauce on the left and Pizza Sauce on the right.  I have a few more jars in the fridge/pantry now.

Making homemade pizza using this pizza base recipe.

Home made pizza using the pizza sauce I made.  I went a little overboard on the mozzarella.

Today  I made some Lemon & Chia/Poppy Seed muffins which takes less than 5 mins to whip up and then 15 minutes in the oven.  I used half chia and half poppy seeds for this recipe however you could use one or the other depending on your taste.  I have always love the lemon and poppy seed flavour. The muffins have a nice crust exterior and soft on the inside. So quick and easy and they are in the freezer now ready for afternoon tea after school next week.  The recipe has Thermomix instructions however you can just use your mix master or food processor as it's simple as putting all the ingredients in together and then mix for a minute or so.  Super quick and it's quite a wet mix.  

I also made this loaf of white bread today as well.  I haven't found a white loaf recipe that I like, even though we have the most amazing bread roll recipe so I gave this recipe a go.  I let the bread prove in a glass bowl with glad wrap on top out in the sun in the back yard until it doubled in size which was about 1.5 hours.  I'm quite happy with the loaf and I've sliced it up ready for toast or sandwiches. No nasty chemicals and I'd give it a 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Around Here

Around here I have been thinking more about the food we put in our mouth.  We all get time poor, lazy or can't be bothered sometimes that things slip.  It wasn't until a few weeks ago I listed to a podcast called "Whole Circle Podcast" by Tracey & Jo who are Mums and live in Tasmania.  Their website is called "Additive Free Lifestyle" and they have a program to help families meal plan and get more preservatives and additives out of their food whether they cook it themselves or learn how to select the right brand from the supermarket shelves.

Jo's story about why she went additive free truly makes sense.

Here's a few episodes that might be of interest to you. Personally I think all of them are amazing and you should work your way through them.

How to save money whilst eating additive free.

Top 5 Questions from our additive free challenge.

Top 5 episodes.

This week the girls are running a free 7 day challenge to help you become additive free which I'm in the middle of.  It focuses on one thing a day and the first day it's about preservative 282 found in supermarket bread, wraps etc. to extend their shelf life and stop mould from growing.   It has reminded me to get back into making our own bread on a weekly basis as my kids love it.  This bread is the Thermomix 5 Seed Bread recipe which you could easily make even if you don't have a Thermomix as most food processors these days have dough settings.  I can highly recommend an electric knife [mine broke a while back and ended up throwing it out] and then someone was selling theirs for $5 on our local FB buy sell page so I snapped it up.  So along with your electric knife I also have a D.line Bread Slicer Cutting Guide which is fantastic to get uniform slices of bread that fit into the toaster.  I can highly recommend this item if you make bread all the time.

I listened to these podcasts a couple of weeks ago and it was very eye opening.  The 7 day challenge is happening now and each day there has been an information sheet sent to your email address and a little task to complete ie check your pantry to see what things contain Caramel 150c or try making this home made ice cream recipe.  Or give bread making a go.  A bit like "That Sugar Film" where manufacturers put things on the front of boxes so you think you are selecting the healthier option the labeling really is a mind field with numbers and things listed we don't even understand.

With all the time in the world we would all love to make everything from scratch however sometimes that's not an option.  When it is, you are doing your family a great service, however it's even more important to understand how to purchase things if you don't have time, run out of time or aren't that way inclined.  Listening to these podcasts was such a reminder and eye opener for me to be more organized.  On labels when the words "natural flavours" are used what does that mean - it covers a lot of "unknown" things to the consumer and we assume "natural flavours" must be okay.

Here is a quote about spinach wraps you buy in the shops.

 "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!)"

This is the ingredient list from the store bought spinach wraps [as per Additive Free Lifestyle blog]

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).

Here is a recipe to make your own spinach wraps using real spinach, flour, baking powder, salt, butter, water and olive oil. These 7 ingredients we all know what they are compared to the list above.  It's quite frightening and if you were buying wraps generally you would think spinach wraps are healthier than plain wraps so again our perception of healthy is buy the spinach ones when in fact they are probably all the same.  It's a bit of false sense of security about buying the healthy option for your family as we think we are doing the right thing.

Here are the podcasts that relate to the 7 day challenge that is truly eye opening and a good reminder about why products are able to sit on supermarket shelves for a long period of time.  It's simple they use lots of "preservatives an additives" that we shouldn't really be consuming.  Some of these things cause lots of health and behavioral issues in children and adults.  I can highly recommend you listen to at least one of the podcasts below once a week until you get through them.

Day 1 - Preservative 282

Day 2 - Annatto 160B

Day 3 - Perservative 220

Day 4 - Caramel 150c

Day 5 - Take Away Foods

Day 6 - Swapping it up

Day 7 -  Embracing the Change

Years ago we swapped from Margarine to Butter as it's a natural product so that's one step already done.  I am wanting to stop buying store bought Tomato Sauce, BBQ Sauce and Sweet Chilli Sauce and am going to try the following recipes and see if I can keep up with using these instead of relying on the supermarket sugar preservative ones.

Tomato Sauce
Easy BBQ Sauce
Sweet Chilli Sauce
Tomato Paste

My kids reminded me the other day about how fabulous this sauce was and we also used it on pizza's which is what we were making at the time the kids thought about it.

Big changes can be so overwhelming and the idea of the 7 day challenge was look at one thing at a time.  Just like anything making your home made laundry powder or cleaning products just do one thing until you get that right and then move onto trying the next thing and pretty soon you'll have a whole lot of things you do on a regular basis.  Baby steps and do one thing at a time.

I recently purchased this little ceramic butter crock so I can make some butter and have it spreadable.  I did try and make some spreadable butter a little while ago by whipping it up in the Thermomix with olive oil however all I could taste was the olive oil and it was so horrible I ended up throwing it out.  My sister has been doing this with her butter for years however she said you need a "light" oil not extra virgin olive oil like I used.  It put me off after my first attempt so I'm going to make some butter in the Thermomix and store it in this little container.

A description about this.  The Butter Crock works by storing up to 170 grams of butter in the bell and placing water in the crock. This keeps the butter airtight and controls the temperature of the butter. All you need to do is to change the water every 3 or 4 days for soft, spreadable butter year round.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Crumpets Recipe

I have wanted to make home made crumpets for a long time however I have never attempted them until the other day when I saw this recipe on IG.  They mentioned that they make them in the pie maker which I thought was a brilliant idea as they are all the same shape and no messing around with egg rings.  It's a Thermomix recipe however you could easily make this using your food processor and a thermometer.  The person used a Kmart $29 pie maker in her IG post and luckily for us we have had a pie maker for years that we love making Chicken & Leek pies in.

You do need a couple of hours up your sleeve because you need to let the mixture sit for one hour and then another 10 minutes and you can only make 4 crumpets at a time in the pie maker.  Each batch take 5-6 minutes to cook however it was a nice Sunday morning and I made these while I was watched the Gardening Show I had recorded.

The recipe is called Thermomix Recipe - Crumpets anytime.  I always link to the recipes I use and then type them out on my blog as I have discovered some years later if I only use the link and someone closes their blog I've lost the recipe.  It's easy reference for me to go and search my blog for a recipe that I know I've written about.

Finished crumpets ready to eat.

INGREDIENTS FOR BATTER [makes 30 crumpets]

285 gms water
285 gms milk
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
450 gms of bakers flour
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda [bi-carb]
150 gms of warm water


  1. Place sugar, yeast and milk into Thermomix bowl. Set to mix for 3 minutes at 37c degrees on speed 2.  The mixture will become a little frothy.
  2. Add bakers flour, salt and cream of tartar and mix for 10 seconds on speed 7.
  3. Mix for 8 minutes at 37c degrees on speed 1.
  4. Leave in Thermomix bowl for one hour - until it has nearly reached the top.
  5. Add the baking soda [bi-carb] and warm water and beat on speed 6 for 2 minutes.
  6. Leave to rest for 10 minutes

If using a pie maker, heat the pie maker and add 1/4 cup of mixture to each of the 4 pie spots.  NOTE: you must leave the lid up - do not close lid while crumpets are cooking.
Cook for 5-6 minutes until most of the mixture has been cooked to the centre.
Finish off the crumpets by browning them in a fry pan for a minute or less on each side.

I like to eat mine with butter and golden syrup.  I froze most of them in a container and placed some "freezer paper" in between the layers so they would not stick together.  They have no chemicals in them and taste great.  I can highly recommend you give this recipe a go.

Mixture in the Thermomix bowl and the start of the crumpets in the pie maker - lid remains open.

As you can see they cook from the outside in and you can see the different colour on the outside that is already cooked.

Pan fying the tops to get them golden brown.

So happy with how these turned out and they are super easy to make, you just a couple of hours.