Monday, July 28, 2014

Revolutionizing the Washing Process

 We all know that washing is a part of a families household chores that need to be done every couple of days or daily depending upon how many people in your family a load or two everyday.  Back in 2002 and 2003 I lived in Melbourne and the first year I was in a big high rise unit so all my washing had to go into the dryer after it was washed.  The next year I was in a house however the Melbourne weather as people may or may not know, can be "four seasons in one day" so again most of the clothes went into the dryer other wise it may be pegged on the line and if it ended up raining had to go into the dryer anyway.  Once I moved back to Brisbane it was such a joy to be able to peg the clothes on the clothesline in the sun and let them dry.  Yes.....sad I know however I had really missed this while living in Melbourne and I was really excited about drying my clothes in the sun again.  This is the ultimate "simple living" I think.

When I moved to this house a few years ago it had a retractable clothesline that was half under cover and half in the sun so now I had the best of both worlds.  Even in the rain I could dry my washing without having to use the clothes dryer.  I think in the last 3.5 years I've used my clothes dryer about 10 times and that was probably because it was late at night, cold and didn't want to actually peg the washing outside and it was just easier to just put it in the dryer.  I could have avoided those times but seriously I'm really good with not using the dryer and sometimes I indulge myself when I'm really exhausted.

Over the past couple of years I've streamlined how I peg my washing and have it down to a fine art that works for my family.  A couple of items which help me are as follows:-

Armed with these items my washing is pegged like this.

School uniforms are hung with either pink or blue hangers for obvious reasons James is blue and Sienna is pink.  She wears a dress to school and I know that's not James' however when you have 5 school T-shirts on the line I want to know quickly who's shirt it is they are hung with either pink or blue hangers.  All my hangers go into the clothing with the hook to the left.  It can be any way however I do it this way and all the clothes are facing the same way when on the ironing rack.

Shorts and skirts are hung with skirt hangers on the line.  All the kids casual T-shirts are hung on blue or pink hangers until I run out of those colours, then I use whatever colour is available because generally a pink T-shirt will be Sienna's and James has his particular boy T-shirts as well.

Now the next best thing you can have on a clothesline is an Octopus from Ikea.  These will change your life trust me when we (my other friend who put me onto these and I) finally convinced another friend of ours to get a couple once she did, she could not believe how amazing this device was on so many levels.  She agreed that they are a life changing item.  There are lots of little devices like this that you can purchase from Kmart or the cheap $2.00 shops however I have found this particular one from Ikea to be the best.  It's sturdy and hangs really well on the line and there's enough space between the pegs for you to peg everything so I would highly recommend you invest in some of these if you have an Ikea store near you.

It's legs can fold up and we all (our camping buddies) take it camping with us and all the kids hats get hung up on the Octopus because when you are camping kids they can put their hats down anywhere and when you need them everyone including you has to go searching for them.  With the Octopus it hangs up in the one spot and then the kids hang their hats on the Octopus and it's easy to grab them and go for a walk instead of wasting time looking for where they last put their hat down and usually it's never in the same place as the last time they put it down.

I have 2-3 of these Pressa Hanging Dryer (aka the Octopus and it has two little sticker eyes on it as well).  I hang "socks" on one of them and "undies/jocks" on the other and if I need the third I'll use that as well.  The beauty of these is you do not have to get one peg for one sock so it's so quick and efficient.  Also if it suddenly starts raining and you have to race outside you can just grab the whole Octopus and move it under cover rather than trying to take off 30 individual socks/undies/jocks off the line all the while you are getting wet.  It's so simple you just hold open the peg and pop your item on and let go.  These devices will change your life and I suggest you go and get a couple.  If you have a big family you might need 4 of them or depends how often you are doing the washing as once you change over you will not be pegging individual socks and jocks on the line ever again.

Any other items like kids casual shorts or pj's, tea towels etc. just get hung on the line with pegs.  I usually do towels, sheets etc. on a different day as they take up a lot of the clothesline.

I've previously mentioned that I have been making our "home made laundry powder" for the past year and I'm very happy with this recipe.

On the ironing front, I iron all the school uniforms and I still love ironing my tea towels.  I used to iron my pillow slips but gave that away after I had kids due to lack of time.  The fact that all the clothes are already hung up on hangers drying when they come inside they go on the ironing rack rather than being crumpled up in the clothes basket.  This means that the ironing part of it is usually quicker because they have less wrinkles and they are hung dry on the hangers.  I used to iron all the kids casual clothes but these days that depends upon a few things (i) if I'm on a roll and don't mind ironing a few more casual T-shirts and shorts (ii) Landline is still going and the iron is on so I'll do a few more items.  If we are going out I will always iron the kids casual clothes so they look nice and neat when we are out.  I don't mind the kids running around the back yard in a T-shirt that's not ironed.  If we are home on a Sunday I put the TV on and watch Landline and Gardening Australia and iron the school uniforms and whatever else I need to iron. I don't mind ironing when listening to these inspiring interesting shows about Australia.

There you have it, this is how I have streamlined my washing/pegging process to ensure efficiency in our household and wanted to share it with you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I want to Remember

Life is extremely stressful due to a certain "ex" and apart from many many tears I just can't sleep even though I woke up over an hour ago after finally getting to sleep it's now 2.54 am in the morning and I can't go back to sleep or stop my mind from racing with all these thoughts.  I know that I can't control other people to be nicer or even give a dam however when things are done without concerning themselves with the impact certain decisions have on the kids lives I find it extremely difficult to understand.

I love my kids more than anything else in the world and they are kind and caring, funny and intelligent and amazing little people.  They are just like any other kids that fight and annoy each other, can't agree on which TV show to watch but through all of this we love each other.  I wanted to write down some things I want to remember right now.

I want to remember laying in my bed with Sienna on one side of me and James on the other with my arms around them watching River Cottage Everyday "Bread" series together this afternoon and vowing to have a go at making our Sourdough Starter again.

I want to remember how Sienna negotiated with James this afternoon about how we were going to make the home made tortilla's for dinner.  She said "James what if I make them and then you can cook them because you like cooking and I'm not very good at doing the hot things"  He thought that was a great idea and I told them both how proud I was of how they handled that.

I want to remember Sienna's creativity every week making up games to play or doing a new craft activity from nature.  This week she has 3 doggies made from balloons that she drew faces on and tied string to to play with She set up an obstacle course in the garage for the dogs to jump over and go around and engaged James into playing "dog school" with her.  I want to remember James being willing to play this game with Sienna because it meant a lot to her and I was grateful he indulged her.

I want to remember that we tell each other "I love you" at least 3 times a day and often it's many more times than that on most days.

I want to remember that hugs are free in our house and that they are priceless in my books.

I want to remember that before every meal just after the plates are put down with food on it that I hug and kiss James and tell him that I love him and then I hug and kiss Sienna and tell her that I love her and then we eat.  This usually goes for morning and afternoon tea as well and it's our little ritual.

I want to remember Sienna and I dancing in our pj's with shower hair waiting for the pasta to cook.

I want to remember that James has been trying really hard to manage his behaviour when things aren't exactly the way he thinks it should be and I'm so proud of him.  Our household is a much nicer place because of it.

I want to remember that I love teaching my kids about simple living and cooking from scratch, baking bread, Anzac biscuits, home made tortillas etc.

I love that James and Sienna love my cooking.

I love that when I made my first Lasagne last Friday and James had his first mouthful he said "it's the best Lasagne he has ever tasted" and then he realized that Aunty Lisa (my sister) was with us has previously made Lasagne for us and then said "apart from Aunty Lisa's" so as to not upset her.

I love that Aunty Lisa is an amazing Aunty to James and Sienna and brings a packet of marshmallows with her every time she sees us as her little tradition.

I want to remember James learning to play the guitar in the June school holidays because we were able to borrow a guitar from our very kind friend.  I want to remember James is highly intelligent and can read music unlike his mother.

I want to remember that after a shower Sienna loves it if I put a little bit of Estee Lauder Dusting Powder on her tummy to smell nice.  She tells me she loves it because it makes her feel calm and smells like Mummy.

I want to remember that when I hopped in the shower the other day and the glass steamed up that a heart shape appeared on the glass and immediately I knew that Sienna was here and I smiled and laughed when I saw it and makes me love her even more.

I want to remember that when I hopped in the shower yesterday there was a message that appeared on the glass that said "secret message" to which I knew it was from James.  I want to remember that I mentioned to James that maybe there should be no more messages left on the shower screen if we are using up to much soap making the messages, that is unless of course it says "I love you".

I want to remember that after I got into the shower I found a message from James saying "I love Mum" and then afterwards James asked if I saw the message and I replied yes I saw it said "I love Mum".  I want to remember that he said that was only part of the message and that the rest of the message said "do you think I am a good guitar player" and I want to remember that we all had a laugh at the length of this message on the shower screen.

I want to remember (or in this case forget) about the amount of cleaning this shower is going to require this week due to said messages from my loving children.

I want to remember that James loves reading and has a vocabulary well beyond his 10 years of age.

I want to remember that Sienna has described herself as a "kind and caring person who is happy".

I want to remember these little "snowmen" drawings that James did when he was little.

I want to remember that I am grateful that I have documented a "Week in the Life" (WITL) of my little family for the past 5 years.

I want to remember that we love playing Scrabble together.

I want to remember that I am grateful that I have a passion for photographing our ordinary everyday lives and it makes me happy.

I want to remember that there are lots of times that being a Mum is really hard and that remembering all the things listed above makes it totally worth it.

I want to remember a quote I read the other day which rang true to my heart and whilst it made me laugh it totally described how some days are as a mother.

"They may be cute but these two have completely and utterly destroyed my spirit today" 

I want to remember that first and foremost I love being their Mum.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

My very first Lasagne & Sticky Date Muffins with Butterscotch Sauce

Last night a made Lasagna for dinner which was a big deal for me.  I make Spaghetti Bolognese every other week and after I've made that I think Lasagna is a whole other process beyond this and I can't be bothered with the time that it takes.

I've only made Lasagna a couple of times in my 20's when it was a Weight Watchers Recipe that you used Cottage Cheese (yuk) instead of white sauce so I'm calling last night's "Lasagna" as my first real Lasagna.   I was usually only cooking meals for myself way back then, and whilst I doubled my recipes so I could have freezer meals when I didn't feel like cooking, Lasagna is a large dish that serves many so it was not something I ever made for myself.

I also think Lasagna is rather a heavy meal however when we were down visiting our friend Donna at Rainbow Bay she made Lasagna and it was light and delicious so I decided there and then I would make it for my family.  Having a Thermomix helps because I made the Bolognese part in the Thermomix and then cleaned it out and made the white sauce.  I just threw the ingredients in, pressed a couple of buttons and hey presto the sauce was made with no lumps and no stirring by me which was perfect.  I do know how to make a white sauce on the stove but throwing the 3 ingredients in and pressing some buttons, even better.

I used 3 layers of Lasagna sheets with the Bolognese, the white sauce and parmesan cheese which I found was plenty for this dish.  I did run out of the Lasagna Sheets but felt it didn't need any more layers anyway.

Here's the Lasagna straight from the oven.

Served up with some rainbow salad.

I made "Sticky Date Muffins with Butterscotch Sauce" and home made vanilla bean icecream.  This was going to be our dessert however yesterday was so cold and windy I decided that we (Aunty Lisa aka my sister, James, Sienna and I) would have this for afternoon tea to warm us up instead of dessert later that evening.  It was a very wise move and we also were hungry as opposed to trying to fit this in after our  Lasagna.  Sticky Date Pudding/Muffins are normally a heavy dessert as well however if you try this recipe you'll see how light and fluffy they are.  I have made this recipe once before and have frozen the muffins for a lovely dessert when you need it.  Try them....delicious.

And to finish off Sienna drew this lovely drawing for me yesterday morning and she asked me if I liked the mustache she drew on James.  She told me we were on top of the mountain where we were close to the sun and I love those "M" birds in the sky.  I remember drawing birds like that as a child.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When a Community gets Together

At the beginning of February our suburb launched a "Residents Association" in order to have a body of people who acted on behalf of our suburb's community.  There was a BBQ and an "Ideas Clothesline" where everyone pinned with pegs their ideas of what they would like to see in our suburb.  Things like our own Library, Swimming Pool, better parks for kids, live bands, outdoor concerts, movies etc. to name a few. One of the items that was on the top of everyone's wish lists was to have our own "Farmers Markets".

After the Launch happened a meeting was held for residents about 5 weeks later to discuss all the ideas put forward for the suburb and what people wanted in their community.  We focused on the top 5 things and had round table discussions for 30 minutes before the bell went and we moved to the next table to discuss and give our input and ideas.  I took the kids along and they were a great help to what they wanted when it came to the "parks and recreation" topic.

Whilst we all have our "wish lists" in mind some things require lots of money and some things require lots of organization.  For instance a local swimming pool would require firstly to find a large vacant space for said pool and millions of dollars to build it however starting our own "Farmers Markets" is something that can be done a little more easily.  Expressions of interests were requested and I understand there were two main contenders in the early stages however there could have been more.   The running of the market was given to a family who have run Farmers Markets "not for profit" for many years now and are a few suburbs over and they came to speak to the residents about what they could offer.

I'm so excited as it's local and the profits go back into our community projects.  In today's society in the city suburbs where people work all hours and don't know their neighbours I'm thrilled to think that our "Residents Association" have listened to the people and acted and within 5 months from that BBQ Launch we have our local Farmers Markets up and running which will be fortnightly.  I could imagine this happening in a small local country town but to happen in a suburb in Brisbane I think that's pretty awesome.  I love the fact that they are fortnightly because once a month shopping for fruit and veg sends you back to the supermarket for the other 29 days so a fortnight market is going to be much better to get the maximum benefit from them and also the farmers/growers/creators.

Last Sunday was the launch of the Farmers Market in our suburb with over 70 stall holders all farmers, or their families or crafts people who make the goods.  There are no middle men and no one buying second hand produce from the veggie markets and on-selling it.  They are the farmers/growers/creators themselves.

Here's some pictures of our first local Farmers Market.

Monday, July 7, 2014

New York Times 5 Minute No Knead Bread

This bread recipe has been around for many years and I've made it a couple of times at my old house.  I did use my cast iron camp oven but it's extremely heavy and the lids aren't easy to manage getting off at extreme temperatures.  Fine when you are camping and you can plonk the link on a bit of wood or the ground but my kitchen is another story.

About a year ago I bought a Dutch Oven pot from Aldi with the intention to make this bread recipe however I never got around to doing it and by the time a few months later I opened the box ready to make the bread I read in the instructions that the Dutch Oven could not sustain high oven temperatures because of the handle on the lid.  For general recipes the Dutch Oven I think is fine but not at the temperature that this bread is cooked at.  This resulted in me not being able to use the pot for the very reason I bought it.  Aldi are really good with refunds however it was months past the date when I bought it and I had also thrown out the box that it came in.

I was doing a bit of research recently and realized that you can use Corningware which I have so I opted to use that instead.  Yesterday I made the dough and let it rise until today and then made my loaf of bread.

I mixed the dough up which took about 5 minutes to do by the time I gathered the ingredients etc.
 I covered it with cling wrap and wrote some notes on the top.

This is the dough the next day at midday.

I folded the dough, then covered it up with the tea towel for 2 hours to rest.

Here it is after it was baked for 30 minutes with the lid on and 20 minutes with the lid off at 230 degrees.