Saturday, July 29, 2017

Round up of some previous simple living posts

I thought I would go back through my blog posts and link back to some earlier posts.

The Best Ever Fluffy Bread Roll recipe.  If you have ever been intimidated by making bread this is the easiest recipe.  This is a Thermomix recipe however there is a link to the directions on how to do it without a Thermomix.

The easiest way to clean your Microwave oven.

I hired this movie from the Library called GMO OMG.  Worth watching it.

Our pizza base recipe which we love.

Book review "The Story of Seven Summers" one of my favourite library reads.

That time when I met Rhonda and Hanno from Down to Earth blog.

Post on making a rag quilt.

My easy washing process.

Our favourite Chocolate Coconut Slice recipe.

First time we made home made dumplings.

A family of 5 living in a small home after the GFC.

Home made laundry washing powder.

Making a photo book of our veggie garden.

Hope you have a lovely relaxing weekend.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Around Here

Around here we are getting to the end of the football season in a few weeks time.  Still cooking lovely warm winter soups and recipes.  Hoping to order my photo book this week for the Week in the Life 2016 and loving reminiscing over the memories captured during that week.  Here's what's been happening in photos.

In the kitchen cooking.

Frying up some capsicum for a pasta sauce.

Friday night footy.

Weekend pancakes for breakfast.

In the kitchen rolling Anzac biscuits.

Unbelievably foggy morning in our neighbourhood.

Sienna and I out taking photos of the fog.

James was on the Channel 9 News on Friday night with the Qld Premier and Education Minister talking about the Robotics Program at the was his 2 seconds of fame.

Saturday footy game.

Just kicked the ball in time before the tackle.

Sienna making pikelets for afternoon tea.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Following on from yesterday's post about Photo Projects and Books

One other major photography project that I undertook with a friend was "Project 365" in 2009.  This is a well known project where you take one photo a day for 365 days straight.  It sounds like a big commitment but it's only one photo a day which can take a couple of minutes.  I did it with a good friend of mine and we would email each other our photos at the end of the day.  I never missed a day and it was fun thinking about what photo I was going to take for the day.  At the time I was already using my camera 3-4 days a week so it wasn't much of a stretch.  

One thing that is great about that project is you can see the improvement in your photos over time, better composition, more understanding of your camera dials, enjoyment over remembering the simple things.  My plan was easy, I would think about the week ahead and work out which days we had something on that a photo would be taken eg. playgroup, friends catch up etc and on the other days I would just see how things would unfold.  Mostly it was really hard to narrow it down to just one picture.  Not all the photos were of my kids, sometimes they were of a bunch of flowers, our dinner, the blue sky, the famous Brisbane dust storm (do you remember weird).

My purpose for this project was to end up with a canvas with all the 365 photos on them.  At the same time I used a Kikki K photo box and printed the photos complete with the photo number and description of the photo.  eg 5th January, 2009 - 5/365 Summer time fun in the pool.  I have all those photos in the Kikki K photo box to look back on with the words.  The big project was the canvas which hangs in our dining room.  Often at dinner my daughter will play an "eye spy" game and say "I spy with my big eye (yes she uses big instead of little) Aunty Lisa's fish and we have to look the canvas and find the picture.  I remember taking each one of those photos and it is such a great project.

Before I started the project I went and saw a company who printed Canvas (way before Kmart, Big W and Harvey Norman were doing them) and I told the guy what I wanted to do and we worked out a size and how big the images would be and then all I needed to do was in one year's time give him the USB with the images in order.  Fast forward a year and the guy had sold the business but the new owner was just as keen and he did an amazing job.  He set up a Photoshop template dropped all the images in and printed the Canvas on his expensive fancy machine.  It was so exciting to see all the images together.  My photography has come a long way since 2009 however it's the memories in these photos that I treasure not the technically perfect photo.

Here's a picture of the Canvas on the wall.

Just let me tell you that I can name two people one local, and known to me, and one overseas that I follow and both of these ladies embarked on a Photo a Day project of their family.  Just everyday at home photos of the kids eating dinner, watching tv, playing games etc.  In both these cases sadly one of their children passed away that year.  My friends 8 year old daughter died 6 months after getting Leukemia that year and one of the biggest gifts she had was that I encouraged her to do Project 365.  She said she would not have captured all those everyday at home photos of her daughter had she not started this project and wrote me a letter to say how much those photos meant to her and was so thankful I encouraged her to participate that year.

The other one a beautiful Mum in the US had her 2.5 year old son suddenly pass away in the middle of the night a few weeks ago and she had been posting photos everyday of their "photo a day project" prior to this.  I pray to God this doesn't happen to anyone however it just goes to show how important photos are and documenting our everyday life at home because you just never know what is going to happen in the future.  Remember the camera normally comes out for those special birthday, holidays and Christmas type of events.  Just document your life, as it is now complete with messy kitchen, messy hair, life at home with your family.

If you haven't ever done a photo book on line it can seem daunting and overwhelming.  My best advice to you is spend an hour a day or an hour a week going through your trip photos or your year's photos and picking the images.  They don't have to be the exact images to go in your book, however they may be a collection from which to choose from.  Once you pick your images edit them with your cameras' software to fine tune them. Make them brighter if they are to dark.  Crop them if there are things you don't need on the edge of the picture.  There are lots of simple edits you can do to tweak them.  I think some of the photo book companies might have little editing tools within but not sure.  So now you have say 200 photos from your trip that you might end up using 120-150 photos for your book.  You usually load them into the photo book work space/software and usually it's a drag and drop method to pop your image into the space on the page in your book.  Most photo book companies come with standard templates (pages that might have spots for 1, 2, 4, 6 images to a page) and you just select that page and drop your images into them.

Most of your time will be spent going through your photos and picking the ones you want for your book.  Put them onto a USB or make a new folder on your desktop so that those images are together in one location.  Once that is done the rest is not that hard.  

I prefer to use software that I can work "offline" on my own computer and then load the book once it's completed.  That means I download the software to my computer work on the pages and when I'm ready to print I just upload the book.  As my Week in the Life book is so detailed the upload could take 30 minutes from memory.

Here is a link to my 2012 Week in the Life pages and how I went about my book and some images from 2010 Week in the Life book.

This is the link to the designer and her book where I purchased my Photoshop Templates and used them for my WITL project.

If you need more inspiration or tips on how to make photo books here's a few other links for you.

My pinterest board on photo book ideas.

Make a photo book on your veggie garden. I've done this after seeing Elise's book.

This is another apartment Elise lived in and documented.  I wish I had done this when I first moved out of home and the places I lived in.

This is Tracey Larsen's Week in the Life in the same format that I do mine in.

Tips from Rebecca on photo books and documentation.

I hope this gives you some inspiration and motivation to get started to go through those photos on your hard drive.  I don't put any time pressure on myself for my photo book projects.  My 52 Project I add the photos to my folder and template each week which takes about 10 minutes.  My Week in the Life book I spend time getting all the photos into the pages as the first step.  The 2nd step is to write the stories and the third step is to upload the pages to the photo book.  I've been working on and off my pages for about 2 months and I'm pretty close to having them ready to upload.  As long as they get done at some stage and off my computer.  Putting together this photo book a year later is quite lovely because you get to go back a year in time when the kids were younger and you remember that particular week with fond memories.  What are you waiting for....go and document and print your life.  It's totally worth it.  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Documenting your Life Photography Projects

I have loved photography since I was 17 years old and today it's no different.  I love how a picture can bring back a feeling and memory in a heart beat.  Over the years with kids there are a few photography projects that I do each year and here are a few.

This is where you take one portrait of each of your children every week for a year.  At the end of the year you end up with 52 portraits of each of your children.  This is not meant to be "stand there and smile" type of photo.  My documentation for this project is to take images of what the kids are into for instance James doing his Rubik Cube or Sienna doing crafts.  There are a few stand there and smile pics but mostly I just document them doing what they are doing.  Reading, at the park, homework, sports etc.

At the end of the year I do a printed photo book using Blurb and have 2 photos per page.  At the back of the book I have photos of just the 3 of us that I have taken throughout the year.  It's important for me to be in the pictures as well.  I don't put any pressure on myself to get a photo of us a week however I try and take them when ever I can.  At our recent Farm Stay experience I got 10 photos of the 3 us us together to add to this years book.  This is our 4th year doing this project and it's one of the really simple projects as anyone can take one photo a week of your kids.

Below is an example of a couple of pages from 2016.  Each week I copy the photos I want and put them in a special folder marked 2017 so I have all the images together in the one location.  I use Photoshop Elements to make my pages however most photo book companies have pages that you can use, I just prefer to use my own and then upload them at the end of the year and get my book printed.

My other favourite project and one that I have doing since 2006 is called "Week in the Life".  This project is a huge commitment as it documents your life for 7 days.  Taking photos from morning until night time.  You can do this as simply as you like or as detailed as you like.  Ali Edwards a scrapbooker from the USA came up with this project and for one week every year she undertakes to document a week in their life.  I have done this project at the same time that she does it every year with the exception of this year.  I'm going to do mine in October as it wasn't possible to do it at the same time this year.  People from all around the world participate in this project with Ali and documenting their week.  Ali tries to do this project at different times of the year so that different seasons are included.

The significance of this photography project is just to document an ordinary week.  Everybody photographs the big events.  Birthdays, Easter, Holidays, Christmas etc but it's the in between what is our "ordinary everyday lives" that it's important to document.  Just imagine if your Mother gave you a photobook of 7 days in your life when you were 8 years old.  The cars that people drove then, the books you read, there were no iPads, mobile phones home computers (well at least I'm speaking for myself).  Family homes were big into wallpaper and brown and orange kitchens and building in the verandah with orange or yellow glass at the bottom and see through glass at the top to make a sun room.  What type of cereals you were eating at 8, I wouldn't have a clue however the packaging tells you which era it'' from.  We all had Hills Hoists in the back yard and the milk man delivered milk.  We had paper drums to put the newspapers in and during summer we emptied the papers out, put it in the front yard and filled it up with water and hopped in and took turns to keep cool.  Just being kids back then is very different to being a kid now.  What is normal now for children will be different when my kids are adults.

As I've mentioned, I've done this project for many years and it's such a valuable part of my family's history what it's like for my kids growing up.  I like to include stories about the day and have pages with some standard questions of the 3 of us like "What is your favourite fruit".  "What is your favourite subject at school" etc. more personal details of each of us in that year.  Here'a picture of the covers of our 2012 and 2014 WITL books.

What normal one year can be different the next even if you don't know it yet.  In 2012 we were at a different school than in 2014.  In 2015 we used to go to our local Video shop to hire DVD's however in 2016 this shut down.  In our 2012 book I have pictures of the kids in the video shop picking out their DVD's and yet now it's closed and everything is basically streamed.  Again what is normal today may change before we know it.  I'm currently in the process of finalizing my "Week in the Life" photo book for 2016 which we participated in May last year.   Here's a look at the cover.

I spend a lot of time putting this book together because it's a project I love and once it's printed it's done and we can flip through the book at anytime and reminisce on our life.

Here's a Pinterest page on people's Week in the Life books.  Elise did her WITL project before she had kids and while her husband was away on assignment.  I love the simplicity of her book.  As I mentioned you can just have photos, or have photos and writing.


Although I haven't done "December Daily" project the last 2 years I have done it for the 5 years prior when the kids were little.  This project documents a story a day for the 25 days leading up to Christmas Day.  Again, imagine if your parents gave you a little photo book that solely documented all your Christmas activities, food, Christmas presents documented in the one place.  This is also a project created by Ali Edwards and a great one to do.

I take a lot of photos and getting them off the hard drive where I am the only one that sees them feels good.  I can only image that in 5-10 years there will be new technology and then we will be stuck.  I have a few tapes from our old Video Recorder days....umm...don't think I will ever be able to look at those again.  Getting your photos in print is what's it's about and I now I have a long way to go with this I now each year I at least have these very special projects done.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Chicken & Corn Noodle Soup

I have been making this delicious Chicken & Corn Noodle soup recently and it's even bit a hit with my son who doesn't like corn.  Win win for me.....he loves it.  My daughter loves corn so it goes without saying she would love this thick hearty soup.  It's been a great meal to have for dinner after a cold winter's night of footy training.  It is very filling and you don't need to add any bread to have on the side.  You can speed up the cooking process you like by getting a cooked chicken and taking the meat off it.  We love this recipe in our household.


  • 1 x Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 x Medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 x Celery stalks roughly chopped
  • 1 x Clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 x Tablespoon of oil
  • 1.5 Litres of chicken stock
  • 500 gms of chicken breast (scored in the thicker parts for even cooking) (See NOTE)
  • 1 x 400 gms tin of corn kernels
  • 80 gms rice noodles broken into pieces (I buy Pandaroo Brown Rice vermicelli from Woollies)
  • 50 gms of baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped/tear in pieces
  • 40gms bean shoots (I just use a small tin of Riviana Been sprouts)
  • 2 x Tablespoons of Tamari or soy sauce (optional)
  1. Blend onion carrots, celery and garlic to a rough paste in the food processor (or finely chop).
  2. Heat oil in non-stick saucepan over medium heat, add blended vegetables and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add stock and simmer gently for 10 minutes to allow flavour to infuse.
  4. Add chicken fillets and return pot to a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stand covered for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove chicken, allow to cool slightly then shred using two forks.
  7. Add corn and noodles and return stock to boil for a few minutes or until noodles are cooked.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Add spinach, shredded chicken and basil to soup and stir through.
  10. Add a splash of Tamari or soy sauce if you like for extra flavour.
  1. Prep time approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Cook time approximately 40 minutes.
  3. You can swap cooking the chicken in stock if you buy a cooked chicken and just take the meat off and add it to the dish.
  4. This soup can be portioned out and frozen for another night.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Farm Stay

Taking the kids to a Farm Stay has been on my bucket list for a long time however finances and other pressing bills, car repairs, electricity (don't get me started on the cost of that one) and other general living expenses have all been a priority.  The stars aligned for the July school holidays to stay on the hobby farm for 2 nights and 2 days and we had the best time.  I had to pop up to the shop about an hour before we had to leave and I got into the car and the battery was completely dead.  RACQ and $209 later we are able to leave.  I was so thankful I needed to go to the shop earlier rather than at 12.30 pm when we were ready to leave only to discover the car wouldn't start.

We stayed at Blackwattle Farm B&B at Beerwah in the Rain Forest Cabin.  This is a small hobby farm of about 20 acres run by Emma and her husband Mark and they have a cute little 7 month old son called Jasper.  Currently they have 2 sorts of B&B accommodation one for couples which is part of the main house and the other one is the Rain Forest Cabin at the bottom of the hill where we stayed.  Breakfast is provided in the way of cereals, bread, local Maleny Milk, honey from their farm and home made jam and a bowl of fruit.  They have a fridge and microwave inside and a BBQ outside for your use.  The cabin is beautiful and modern with a country feel and modern bathroom.  There is one bedroom with two single beds and in the living area a king size bed.  There is plenty of room on the couch to read a book and relax and even though we took some board games with us there were games provided in the cabin.  There was also an outdoor fire pit which the kids loved getting the fire going to toast some marshmallows.

Feeding time for the animals is at 4pm so that's when you meet the animals, get to know their names and feed them.  Some of the animals are small Dexter cows, pigs, miniature goats, ducks, alpacas, small horses to name a few.  While we were there the pig was expected to give birth however it didn't happen while we were there but we were hoping.

They have a large organic veggie garden which you can help yourself to and the views over the Glasshouse Mountains up where the animals live is breath taking.  Our cabin was down the bottom of the hill near the rain forest and we loved hearing the sounds of the whip bird and other nature calls.  This is the sound of the whip bird.

This pig was due to give birth any day.

Feeding the other pigs.

The Glasshouse Mountains makes a stunning backdrop to our latest family photo.

I think it won't be too long before they are both taller than me and I'm 165 cm (5'5).

This is the front paddock where some cows and the bull lives.

Some of the farm animals in the front paddock.

Hello there....

Two of the alpacas on the farm.

The kids got to ring this triangle and make a lot of noise at 4pm to tell the animals it was dinner time.

James holding one of the new additions to the farm a baby miniature goat which had a twin brother.

Sienna is holding the other baby twin goat.

Beautiful afternoon light at the end of the day after feeding the animals.

Toasting marshmallows over the fire.