Saturday, February 28, 2015

Letter to the Queen's Secretary

Last week I posted a picture of an envelope I sent to the Queen's Secretary and left you hanging as to why I was doing this.

James had to do an presentation to his class about himself including family traditions, goals, family history etc. and I remember my father in law telling me something about his Grandfather and his special handwriting and so we rang Pop to talk about it and he also sent us a book which was written about his Grandfather (ie James's Great Great Grandfather).

As it turns out that James' Great Great Grandfather was born in England in 1881 and immigrated to Western Australian in 1912 with his family.  He was well known for his "copy work work" and was commissioned by the WA Education Department to hand write the "copy books" for the school children to learn how to write.  The copy books that were printed with the handwriting on one line and then underneath was a blank line and the school children copied his handwriting.  These books were used in WA up until the late 1960's.

He was also a famous photographer for the WA Newspapers and painted as well.  He also was famous as a Miniaturist and wrote "The Lords Prayer" on a piece of paper the size of a Threepence.

All of this is so interesting and this is where my letter comes into it.  My father in law also told me that his Grandfather was commissioned by the WA Government to hand write the official letter of invitation from the WA Government to the Queen to invite her to come to Western Australia.  This invitation was hand written in 1953 for the Queen's visit in 1954.  When we were talking he said he would love to get his hands on a copy of it so I decided to write to the Queen's Secretary explaining the whole situation to see if this invitation was in the archives and whether it was possible to get a copy.  I have no idea if they would keep these documents or if a copy of it still exists however I thought it was worth the $2.75 stamp and 5 minutes of my time to draft up the letter.  I didn't tell my Father In Law I was doing this, I just thought I would post it and see what happens.

He also had a copy of a Christmas Card and envelope that was post marked 1958 from his Grandfather.  It was posted to Pop's workplace however he had since left that workplace and a colleague of his got the envelope and when he saw the writing he could not bring himself to cross off the address part of the envelope and scribble "forward to the new address" so this fellow went and bought an envelope and put this envelope into it and posted it on to my Father in Law so you can see that his handwriting was very special.  The envelope and Christmas card is 57 years old and was written by James Great Great Grandfather.  I love discovering things like this.

That's the story about writing my letter to the Queen's Secretary....wouldn't it be awesome if the document did exist and I could get a photocopy of it for my Father in Law.  Any interesting family history in your family.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Around Here

Around here there have been lots of things going on so I'll let the pictures do the talking however first up take a look at this wonderful story about getting honey on tap.  An article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald this past weekend about this father and son team from Canberra have been working on this invention for the past ten years and think they've got it ready to market.  Their crowd fund raising campaign started this morning and they wanted to raise $70,000 and already the funds raised are $1,197,034 USD and the day is not finished.  I would want one of these in my own back yard.

***just an update on how much money has been raised a day later since I posted this, it's now $2,306,227.  I think anyone with bee hives would want one of these and anyone without bee hives would want one of them also.  What a great response for these two Aussie guys.

The Bee story was on Channel 10's The Project last night and this morning (start of day 4) their fund raising is now over $3 million. Clearly they are onto a winner product and I wish them all the very best with the project.

Here's what's been going on around our place.

Our little lizard came out in the wet for a run around the back yard.

The corn is coming along and I know Sienna and I will be in heaven when we get this on our dinner plates.

Some Saturday morning chilling while it's raining outside.

Here's Bluey chilling in his cage and loving his little mirror.

James chilling playing the guitar and those Christmas decorations are now finally put away yesterday.

A pretty sky after the rain the other night.

Sienna had a little birthday party yesterday afternoon with her school friends as she turn 9 on Friday.

The girls all made their own skewers with grapes, strawberries and marshmallows and then I put chocolate on them and we put them in the fridge while they played a game and then they were ready to eat...yum, yum and a great easy party activity.

The corn glowing in the late afternoon light.

A letter I am sending to Queen of England's Private Secretary...true story...more on that later.

Box Girl is still going strong and has some updated coloured hair and a change of clothes.  This creation has stood the test of time as Sienna made her about 8 months ago.

Aunty Lisa (my sister) prepared a book for Sienna on how to look after her new little budgie.

A chocolate brownie that I made but it wasn't moist enough for me however we still ate it all.

Some biscuits I made the other day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Meet Sienna's new Budgie

Sienna turns 9 on the 27th February and yesterday we picked up her birthday present early as it was ready for collection.  A beautiful little hand reared little budgie and his name is "Blue" or "Bluey" at this stage.  It's just adorable and this is the perfect gift for my little nature lover.  Aunty Lisa (my sister) has a Cocktiel and Sienna loves visiting Aunty Lisa's bird.  Lisa's bird "Lucky" woof whistles at you and always makes my day when I visit.  Also when we park our car in her carpark and call out to Lucky who is on the balcony a couple of stories up he whistles back at us which is so cute and it always makes us laugh and smile.

Lisa printed a about a dozen pages of information about how to look after the Budgie and also typed up a little list of "What to do daily" ie check seed and water etc. and what to do "Weekly" clean the cage.  She also included the little iPhone pics that I had taken 2 weeks ago when we went to pick which budgie she wanted when it only had half it's feathers.  It was such a lovely little book and Lisa was just as excited as Sienna about getting the bird.  "Bluey" is a dear little thing that's for sure and is going to be a lovely addition to our family.

Take a look at these adorable photos taken yesterday afternoon.

James was doing a "get to know me" while Sienna was having her shower.

Sienna in bed reading her book Aunty Lisa made her with information on how to look after her Budgie.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Some Interesting Internet Reads

I thought you might like to take a look at these articles that I have found interesting.  It's nice to see what other people find on the interest outside of your own little blog reads.  Crab a coffee and take a look at a few of things.

A post about making sure you are in photos with your kids.

Simplifying home and nurturing the family table.

A story about developing and creating a new sustainable community.

If you are after a lovely Jam Drop recipe make these as they are delicious.

The Lunch Lady vs Greens Classic Carrot Cake.

The Assortment Blog and small living featured in a magazine.

Loved this post from Lizzie from Strayed from the Table blog about her darling daughter Isla enjoying life on the farm and splashing in the puddles.  Lizzie is also running a Sourdough Workshop which I myself would one day love to attend.

This inspiring couple Matt and Lentil at Grown and Gathered and their "Flower Exchange" programme.  Here is their Instagram Account for some pretty home grown goodness.

Coffee and Crumbs blog is a collection of stories about motherhood, love, truth and the good kind of heartache.  Stories from mothers to support mothers and reading about how other mothers feel sometimes can lighten the load when you think mothering is exhausting.

Read about the Woodwards who moved a barn from a property and put it back together on their land piece by piece and then decided to live in the tiny little space above the barn.  They make the most of this tiny sized room with clever designs to maximize the space.  Here is a link to their posts on the barn decorating and living.

If you are after inspiration from a near Zero Waste Story head over to The Rogue Ginger blog and this is how Erin got started.  All I can say is that is some effort and I would have more than that on any given day.  I take my hat off to Erin for her dedication that's for sure.

A previous post of mine if you are after a really delicious Chocolate Slice Recipe to bake.

Another previous post of mine if you are after a recipe to make a batch of biscuits.  This dough can also be frozen to make some at a latter time.

The best oven baked chicken wings from Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food.

I hope you find these interesting.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pizza Base Recipe

I've made a few pizza bases in my time and I'm not a big fan of them tasting or smelling like yeast once they are cooked.  This recipe is one my sister and her family use and it's very light and quite sticky to work with but it's worth it.  My kids thought my other pizza base recipes are better however I think this one is a winner.  I made one large pizza with this dough and I used bakers flour although the recipe calls for plain flour so you can do either whatever you have on hand.


225 gms (One and a half cups) of plain flour (I use bakers flour)
1 Teaspoon of Dried Yeast
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Pinch of sugar
185ml (3/4 cup) of warm water (I use a thermometer and have water 105-110 F {40-43C})
2 teaspoons olive oil

Note:  The warm water I use comes out of the tap however I always use the thermometer so I don't kill my yeast.


Preheat oven to 240 degrees Celsius {464 F).

1.  Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
2.  Make a well in the centre and add water and oil.
3.  Use a round bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until combined.
4.  Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
5.  Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until almost smooth.
6.  Place the dough into the bowl and let it sit for 10-15 minutes with a tea towel or cling wrap over the top while you spend some time cutting up some ingredients to go on your pizza.
7.  Place bakers paper/parchment paper on your pizza tray and sprinkle with a little bit of flour.
8.  Tip the dough into the centre of the tray and make sure your fingers have lots of flour on them as this dough is sticky.  Lightly stretch and push the dough towards the outside of the pizza tray with the tips of your fingers to make the shape of your pizza.
9.  Once this is done leave it to rest for 5 mins before placing the ingredients on it.
10.  Spread your pizza sauce onto the base and top with your favourite pizza toppings and bake in the oven until it's the way you like it.

I baked this for 10-12 minutes however I always stand near the oven and watch the pizza as sometimes it can cook really quickly at the end and you don't want the base to burn.  I cooked the pizza in our little gas pizza oven which is awesome.  If you like really thin pizza's you could probably make two pizza's out of this dough.  My brother in law makes it really thin and it's delicious however tonight I just went with the one pizza and it was just right.

Give this a go and let me know what you think.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Rustic Olive Oil Crackers

I've been reading City Hippy Farm Girl's blog for a couple of years now and Brydie is now writing over at Milkwood Permaculture.  I came across this recipe for Rustic Crackers which are just made from plain flour, olive oil, water and salt and thought I would make them to take to a friend's for dinner tonight.  They were so simple and they look very rustic like the picture so all I need to do now is whip up some cream cheese and sun dried tomatoes for a dip and we are good to go.  My friend is hosting the first of many Friday night dinners tonight after being inspired by this post.  These are so simple you just have to try them and no additives or preservatives which is even better and these ingredients would be in most household pantries.

It takes about 3 minutes to get your ingredients out and mix them with a fork/spoon or by hand and then you just let the mixture sit for 20 minutes while the oven is heating to 200 degrees.  You then divide the dough into 8 pieces (or 16 if you want smaller crackers which I will probably do next time) and then roll your favourite toppings into the thin dough, spray with olive olive and then into the oven for 12-14 minutes (swapping over your two trays from top to bottom half way through).  The instructions are in the recipe link however I just thought I would type a brief overview here.  Give them a go, your friends will be totally impressed next time you get out your home made dip and rustic crackers.

Here's the dough after it was rested for 20 minutes and cut into 8 portions.

Pop whatever topping you want on your crackers, I've used sesame however you could use, herbs, spices, poppy seeds etc. Press in with your fingers and/or roll over with the rolling pin again, I did both here.  Place on baking sheet on a tray and I used the can of spray olive oil to spray them before they went into the oven as I thought the pastry brush might take too much of the topping off.  I also did freshly chopped up Rosemary and Murray River Sea Salt which is a family favourite topping.

Hot out of the oven...yum, can't wait to try them tonight.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Getting Back to Basics with Simple Entertaining

I read this blog post on entertaining last week and found it really inspiring.  I can't remember which blog this link came from however I loved it just the same and forwarded to a friend of mine.  There are two thoughts when it comes to entertaining and that is (i) you have to spend days getting the house entertainment ready and (ii) it's a lot of work.  I do a lot of family entertainment, family BBQ's, Birthday's, Easter, Christmas etc. however I haven't had friends over for entertainment outside of a couple of take away meals and morning tea.  The other thing is as the kids get to a certain age their social life goes onto the calendar and therefore families trying to catch up don't have a lot of free nights outside of school and sport commitments and family birthdays, events etc. so it just doesn't happen.  I loved this idea of mixing friends and having a simple dinner.

My best friends know if their dining room has loads of clean washing on it folded ready to be put away and/or ready to be folded, that I don't care or think less of them for "living" and that I'm coming to see them for a chat and not their dining room table with nothing on it.  I love that those friends love that they don't have to "clean up" before I get there.  When I say clean up I mean, get all that washing and folding done before I come to have a coffee and they love me for that.  However there are friends outside of that "come over and see me even if I haven't had time to mop the floors" that we would like to have a neat and tidy house for before we considered having them over.  The idea of the entertaining post above is somewhere in between.  Lately I'm somewhere in between all or nothing and it's what is inspiring me and exciting me.

The other thing when you are going to be entertaining, is that you do make the extra effort to sort through that pile of magazines sitting on the floor or hang that clock up that has been sitting on the sideboard for oh so long because you thought the hook required something other than a normal picture hook but it didn't and 15 minutes later the job is done.  So there are good things about having guests over because some jobs get done however you also don't want to run yourself into the ground either just so friends can come over.

The blog post above could inspire any simple meal like home made Pizza's, Curry night, Indian night, Chinese night however I liked the "Simplicity" of the meatballs and I liked that the work was done before the night and that the slow cooker was used so that all that had to be done on the night was cook up the pasta.  As for a dessert at the end of the evening....I would be thinking even a tray of the most delicious chocolate home made brownies (no plates, just bite sized sweetness for adults and kids for dessert using their hands)....remember it's about simplicity as it's not an al la carte meal with fine bone china.  It's about chatting, it's about laughing, its' about getting to know people, it's about mixing friends and entertaining at home with simplicity.  It's about sitting on the couch with a paper plate and a fork, even paper cups, it's about getting together with simplicity and affordability.  I'd say 2 kgs of mince and some herbs and spices and a couple of packets of pasta and home made brownies would come under $25-$30 as the brownie ingredients would probably already be in your pantry/fridge.  You can't go out to dinner for $25, nor can you hear your friends sitting at the other end of the table at a restaurant.  You don't have to have a table to sit at for dinner, couch, chairs, kitchen bench, picnic blankets on the floor for the kids.  Set up a tea/coffee tray and cups next to the kettle and people can make their own coffee and tea if they would like to have a cuppa with the brownies.  That way you are not "serving" everyone, taking coffee orders and missing out on relaxing yourself because as the host we know you can be run off your feet but this idea is about the opposite.  I wonder if this post inspires you as well.