Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Walk Down Amnesia Lane

My parents are hoarders.

Dad is the worst offender by far.  Collects bits and pieces from circuit boards to oil bottles.  He finds value in them and collects with the intention of churning them over, extracting the valuable component to sell and then discarding the rest.  He isn't too good on two things . . . the extraction process (collects more than he can handle) and the discarding process . . . it just never seems to end. 

My Mum, on the other hand, is simply a clutter bug.  Just loves to have 'things' around her more for looking at than for purpose.  And she too struggles to throw things out . . . having lived too long with my Dad perhaps or simply struggles to make that final decision. 

It has taken me years, but I have now come to a fairly healthy point of deciding what to keep and moving things along.  Last July, when we were preparing for our move to Hervey Bay, Rick and I literally gave away half of our belongings.  We didn't sell anything, just gave it away. To anyone who was interested.  It was the kerbside collection the week before we left so we had hoarders combing the streets and we happily contributed to their obsession.  We also gave to people who genuinely needed the items. 

What a feeling!  Seriously, it is liberating to simply give away your belongings.  In hindsight, selling probably would have been the smart thing to do as the money would be handy, but we have been on the receiving end of the generosity of family and friends that we simply couldn't sell.  I also would have liked to have been able to see into the future so that we wouldn't have donated almost all our winter clothes, thinking that we wouldn't be needing them anymore . . . I am missing a few warm tops as this is a cold spring.

So, it was a strange thing to find myself in an Op-Shop last week.  I saw one of my donated items still on the shelf but had no desire to re-purchase it.  What I did purchase were some sheets and pillowcases.  I'm still learning this whole quilting thing so cheap fabric is less stressful to work with!

But then I remembered my Mum has a stack of unused sheets at home.  So off I trotted down to my childhood home in Sydney and op-shopped there!

Sheets, kitchen utensils and a painting.  Woo hoo!  And Mum was only too happy to give them away.  Perhaps it was having someone else decide what to let go of, and knowing it wasn't just getting tossed.

And yes, that is a Smurf bedspread!  It's got a few stains on it but I think I can use it to make two little boys quilts!

And don't you just love that old icecream scoop? The melon baller (or so I think it is) and the cherry pipper?  I'm pretty sure they belonged to one of our grannies.  The forks and knife are the what's left from our family cutlery that we had when I was little.  Can always use more forks in the picnic set.  And I simply love the colour of the handle of the whisk.  The whisk is definitely not needed but adored.

The painting?  Well, Mum said that it turned up at the house and she didn't want it. . . ?  But I love it.  I love the colours, I love the 50's box frame, chips and all but I haven't got a spare hook in our rental . . . .

Apart from behind the dunny door!  But you know, the toilet has become my escape from my micro fellas, even though they are little toilet stalkers waiting impatiently outside the door!  At least I have something to look at now while I am hiding.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Brave New Quilt

It's only taken three quarters of a year to complete this, my first ever quilt. (You can see the progress here, here an here).

You must be thinking 'Almost a year?! Why? Was it really big and complicated?'- No. 

It is infact only 42x42", in the very simple disappearing 9 patch style and the quilting was done by my friend Sal (thanks clever chickie)

It has taken this long because I have never really sewn before.  Because I tremble at challenges.  Because this has been by far and away the worst year of my life.  Just because.

But it is finished now.  *sigh*

And I am so very happy.

As a stay-at-home-mum, my day is full of incompletes and undoings  You know, the housework is undone by toddlers constantly.  Tasks have to be performed day after day.  Does the term chasing your tail resonate ladies?  I don't know how or why you have come to appreciate and participate in crafts but for me it's just that.  To perform a task of my own, that can be completed within a timeframe and stay completed.  To stimulate a part of my brain that until a year ago I thought had all but died.  It is natural for humans to create things.

I have said before that I am not creative.  I take that back.  I am not an originator of ideas, but I can create with my hands.  It is satisfying.  It is relieving.  It is a legacy for my children.  It is fun.  It builds communities such as in my part of the blogosphere.  It is a gift from above.

So, for the inquisitive souls, here are the deets:

fabric: Bliss by Bonnie and Camille for Moda in two charm square packs.
back fabric: Medallion in scarlet and Marmalade in aqua from the same collection
binding: Marmalade in aqua as above

I particularly like the the quilting pattern that Sal suggested.  In some parts it looks like swirls and others like hearts. 

I will make another quilt, I will.  In fact, Jen and I are starting new quilts this week.  She is going to teach me circles.  I hope this one gets finished before the year is out, that way I can at least boast two quilts for 2011.

Ok, so I am off now to finish the last two modules from my financial services course.  That too should produce some satisfaction buzz.


Friday, October 21, 2011

A Dish for Daisy :: Vegan Asparagus Quiche

I was drifting through my local health food shop, sans kidlets looking for savoury yeast flakes when a lovely shop assistant approached.  When I inquired for said flakes, she kindly directed me and then asked me what I was going to use it for.

"Oh, just a vegan quiche" I faux-nonchantly reply thinking that I should stay calm in a healthfood store and not be my usual unhealthly-sugar-induced-happy-explosion-gushie self -- perhaps it was a little bit of a facade.  Her eyes brightened up and delightfully told me that she is "a vegan too!".  Oops, I am not vegan and not a true vegetarian anymore.  I quickly made my confession.

Undeterred, the shop assistant went on to ask me for recipes so I directed her to my blog, apologised for the lack of vegan content but perhaps she could make her own adjustments and promised to post more vegan recipes now that she has inspired me.  Her name is Daisy and she is every bit as bright and cheery as her name evokes.  So Daisy, this is the quiche I was telling you about and yes, it did turn out nicely for my first go and yes, I will be making it again!

This recipe is taken from Simple, Tasty, Good by Signs Publishing

Vegetarian Quiche

5 sheets filo pastry
spray cooking oil
1 cup water
250g soft tofu
1 Tbl lemon juice
1 tsp basil (optional - I didn't use or miss it)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 Tbl yeast flakes
2 Tbl cornflour
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
1/2-3/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic
340g can asparagus spears, drained
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp oil

1. Spray a 23cm quiche dish with oil.  Lay one sheet of filo and spray with oil.  Repeat with remaining sheets of filo.  Gently press the pastry into the base of the quiche dish and allow the excess to hang over the sides.  Preheat oven 150 degrees celsius.

2. Lightly fry the onion in oil until tender.  When cooled a little, cover the pastry base with the onion and add the aspragus.

3. Combine all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.  Pour mix pastry case.

4. Bake for 60 mins or until firm.

I served it with a crisp salad and crusty bread.

I like the onion to be mixed through, not just at the base so I put the asparagus in first, then scattered the onion

My friends know me to be a bit of a foodie so I often get asked for recipes or websites etc.  I haven't ventured very far in search of vegan websites apart from fatfree vegan, the kind life and this CHIP site. (Oh yeah, you should check out CHIP if you are worried about your heart health, diabetes, cholesterol or weight issues- totally awesome program to get on!!)

The Simple Tasty Good website has some really useful links too!  Feel free to add to this list in the comments if you can recommend more vegan friendly sites.

By the way, I was given this book last christmas by a dear dear friend.  I am not selling it or promoting it for kick-backs, but you can buy it yourself from here if you want.

Do you enjoy the odd vegan dish?  Feel free to leave a link in the comments!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chaos & Gratitude

I've often heard the analogy of the duck on the water applied to some mums.  You know,  all calm and graceful above the water whilst below little webbed feet paddle furiously [graceful despite the unseen chaos]. . . I haven't heard it applied to me!  I'm more like a goose that is madly flapping its wings above, feet wildly paddling to no where below, and honking like the world is hard of hearing. Yes, when things aren't working out, I make no secret of it.  I don't label myself as a whinger (ahem) but I can't keep a facade | I totally suck at poker.

I have been pondering this the last couple of days . . . perhaps I need a litte more gratitude in my thinking?  I was challenged with task this morning. 

I took the kids to the local library thinking it was high time we joined up and to see what programs they run.  Perfect day to go because they were having their children's reading and craft this morning.  But my kids were feral.  Dean screamed the entire shopping centre down just prior - yes one of those almighty howls about nothing and people looking at me with either horror or sympathy | both I find abhorrent at such times.  Just look away people and ignore the meltdown!  Yes, so clever me took the boys to the library *clever really means dopey in this case* . . . you can guess what happened next. 

The ladies who run our library are L.O.V.E.L.Y.  Thanks to their patience, kindness and understanding, we were all signed up in minutes, free books given to the boys [yes, free TO KEEP!], and booked in for the children's reading and craft time (that only cost $1.20 each - craft time that I don't have to clean up after is worth 10 times that!).  And you know what?  The boys were calm and loved every single moment of it.  They even helped clean up and were the last to go.

Therefore, I can tell you that I am grateful for our local library!

I'm grateful my kids like my pizzas made from wholemeal english muffins, with olives, cheese and avocado (and N O mushroom please mummy!)

Another thing I am challenged in being grateful for is being a renter.  I won't start on my list of gripes but I will tell you that I have found that I can be grateful for the garden here.

I can even be grateful for the bedrooms despite them looking like Dr Seuss vomitted on the walls.

Do you have a clever trick for the public toddler meltdown?  Oh please share, I might be able to use it with success!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One of my favourites :: Happy Bickies

Did you know that if you are feeling blue it is good to dose up on your omega-3? It is also good to do things like getting fresh air and sunshine, exercise and quality sleep at night.  I can't help you with those, but I can suggest a way to get omega-3.

The recipe below comes from a book call Depression The Way Out by Dr Neal Nedley.  Both the book and this recipe are fantastic.  My boys love these biscuits so much that they have become known as Happy Bickies or Happy Day Doo Bickies (happy day doo is happy birthday, by the way, in Liamese which is only spoken fluently by my 3 year old, Liam but understood by his little brother and sometimes his mother, rarely his father!).

Walnut Maple Cookies
2.5 cup walnuts, ground in food processor
2/3 cup plain flour (use buckwheat or omit altogether - it makes slightly less bickies without flour but still works!)
1 tsp salt (I did a full teaspoon and found it too salty so I suggest 1/4 tsp)
1/3 cup flaxseed meal (I sometimes double this for extra mood-boost but be sure to add a little water to the mix)
1/3 cup carob chips (unsweetened soy is good!)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbl (US measurement is 15ml = tbl) maple syrup (155 ml - although I use half a bottle only which is 125ml and add a little water)
2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients in given order.
Preheat oven 180C
Using baking paper on a baking sheet, drop dough that you have formed into a ball (teaspoon size) using wet spoons then flatten with a wet fork.
Bake on middle rack of oven for 10-15 mins (soft and chewy) or 20-25 mins (crunchy - my preference).

Makes 25-30

And if you are on weight watchers, they work out to be roughly 1.5 points each!

Please have a go at making them.  They are yummy crumbled over cereal and you can adapt to make a nutritious crumble topping for your next fruit crumble.

I love them so much I just had to share.


Monday, October 17, 2011

One of my favourites :: Bircher Museli

frosty raspberries atop of tangy bircher museli

Have you ever passed a recipe on that then came back to you added-to, improved or evolved?  I have a few times.  I love it when that happens.  Like this bircher museli recipe.  I gave my friends the cashew cream recipe I learnt from my church vegetarian cooking class with my side-note option for the excess pear juice to be used to soak oats for bircher museli.  And that is basically as far as I took it with my bircher museli, apart from a spoon of yoghurt and perhaps fresh banana or berries, but usually just the oats.

Julie and Fraser took it a giant step further and created the most delicious bircher museli I have ever tasted and it is completely vegan!

one quantity of cashew cream
reserved juice of the pears
Juice of 2 oranges (plus a little pulp)
approx 2.5 cups of quick oats
fresh fruit

1. Using the pear juice and orange juice, soak quick oats overnight in the fridge.
2. Add the cashew cream to the soaked oats and mix through thoroughly.
3. Add chunky-chopped fruit such as kiwi, bananas, strawberries, pineapple etc.

If this is a little rich for you, then you can reduce the orange juice to one orange and add a little water.  I also find that keeping back a few tablespoons of cashew cream is ok too (plus it means I have a small stash to drizzle over cake or fruit another time)
And voile! there you have it.  You have to try it.  Well, no, you don't have to do anything but I do reckon that this is the best bircher museli I have ever tried and my hubby thinks so too (not to mention the fact that my 3yo keeps asking for the 'cold porridge' every morning!).  Perhaps you can try adding seeds or coconut.  Go on, do it and tell me what you think.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

My birthday . . . .

I wasn't really trying to hide, the blanket was shading my face from the sun!

It was my birthday last week.  Flowers from Rick and my little fellas, a delicious breakfast and a kip in the garden.  Bliss.

My boys have filthy colds so the day included much nose wiping and whinging.  Oh, poor little fellas, they have had hand foot & mouth virus and now colds.  Little troopers though as they had plenty of smiles and tricks just for me.

PS that bircher museli you see above was absolutely delicious and I will be sharing the recipe soon!  I think you will be surprised and will want to try it.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

End of the week special :: Vegie Surprise Soup

As part of my new concerted effort to be a better steward of our income and to just love the planet more, I am not throwing out food anymore. 

I don't know about you, but my 'crisper bin' in the fridge could be more of a 'compost bin' at times.  I would be suckered into whatever the special was at the supermarket or I'd think, yeah, I'll make something with that eggplant and then never actually do anything with it.  Not anymore. 

I have always made shopping lists and weekly menu lists, but I can be weak and deviate off the plan.  Now, my menu plan is more concise including a list of pantry items.  Deviation is rare!

But, yes, sometimes there are vegies that need to be used up so on my weekly menu is the end of the week soup special- An Ode to the Fridge Remnants (if you will).

So, this past week's comprised of cauliflower, potato, corn, zucchini and carrot.  I found an odd tin of vegetarian abalone, some soup mix (yellow split peas, barley etc) and flavoured it up with onion, garlic and vege stock.  It was yum yum yum (even if I say so myself).  And the mung beans?  Yes, sprouted by me ...

and were even eaten by my other sprouts aka da boyz.

Do you have a yummy way of cleaning out the fridge too?


Thursday, October 6, 2011

A trip to the Botanicals

We went to our local Botanical Gardens this week.

I need to go back, and probably sans kidlets as they pestered and whinged and meant that we didn't take many photos and couldn't soak up Creation as much as we'd hoped.

Liam insisted on taking a photo and this is it.  I love maiden hair ferns, do you?
 Instead of relaxing, we all became a bit highly strung.  But I managed to snap this one of my big fellas...

But then Rick took this photo of us.  Obviously, we weren't all ready for the photo and he wasn't going to take another one!

But life is precious and this time with the children being so little will pass all too quickly.  Do you find yourself missing your children about an hour after they go to bed?  I do.  I think it is because they can drive me nuts all day and when I've had an hour to myself, to collect my thoughts and gather a bit of strength, I miss them and want to pour out some love on to them and not my angry voice!

Rick will return to work soon.  Since returning to Port Stephens, we have actually been able to benefit from all this time away from work aka unemployment.  It has been 3.5 months and really, the last 3 weeks have been wonderful.  It wasn't so wonderful before.  As much as we wanted to make Hervey Bay our home and we miss our family and new friends there, it was a difficult time.  Unsettling.  Both Rick and I lost weight which we aren't complaining about at all.  But when I'm asked how I lost weight, I say "buy the book I am writing, it is called the unemployment stress diet!".  Actually, I don't recommend it (and no, I am not really writing a book!).

I am grateful that God listens to my prayers and answers them in His time.  Throughout these past weeks I have meditated on this text:

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
~Isaiah 40:31

Sometimes we have to wait, and He doesn't let us down, we do that ourselves.  So to avoid letting myself down, I claim this promise:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
~Proverbs 3:5,6


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Simple Life Challenge :: Sprouting

Inspired by this post at Slow Living Essentials, I thought I'd give sprouting a go.  Have you sprouted seeds?

I have just started with mung beans but I hope to move onto other legumes and seeds.

I was really put-off starting when I did my little internet search and saw these little gadgets and blog posts/comments with complicated methods. 

But I think I worked out an easy option- well it works at least. I've used one of those glass jars that have the lid attached on a metal hinge, and used the lid to rest the jar on so that it sits at a nice 45 degree angle.  I have then closed the opening with a piece of lace fixed in place with a trusty rubber band.

All I did was soak the beans overnight in water, strain and rinse.  I don't even remove the lace, I just run the water through the top and up turn to drain.  I do it twice a day and they sprout within 2 days usually.  Once sprouted it is best to keep in fridge.  Some people continue to rinse and strain and keep in the fridge, but I find we eat them too quickly!

Yum on salads, soups and stirfries (even sambos!!)

What do you like to sprout and how do you like to eat them?


Monday, October 3, 2011

Shell designs ...

Do you find after reading Dr Seuss your brain tries to make you rhyme?  My brain tries, but doesn't succeed.  I have hardly any original creativity in my body so as much as I can hear the brain crunching gears in my head, there is no rhyming gear!

Perhaps due to lacking talent of my own, I totally gravitate to creative people, which explains why I love reading your blogs.  I feel so ashamed sometimes of my lack of anything interesting to add to the creative pool in the blogosphere but I do enjoy what you have to offer.  So I don't participate in sew-alongs or sending creative gifts around but I do so enjoy seeing what you are all up to.

Therefore, it is no surprise that one of my closest friends is a talented artist and graphic designer.  Shell has finally stepped through into our blog realm and is showcasing her talents: Shell Designs.  Please check her out! 

Here are some examples of her talents that she's blogged:

Pop over there and perhaps you might like to 'follow' her too.  I think Shell is a chickie going places.

Hanging out with creative people is so much fun and I am blessed to have clever friends!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Brave New Me :: Where am I?

So, where do I start?... ok, I'll just tell you as it is.

Hervey Bay didn't work out.  Unemployment and the threat of a long sweltering summer for us eskimos just didn't appeal in the end.  Rick and I decided that he should find full time work again and I will continue on at the home front until we are more settled.  What an upheaval- to say the least.  Twice in 11 weeks we drove 1300kms with two boisterous toddlers in the back seat.  Not my idea of fun not to mention I think I sped past a speed camera just hours after Rick did!

Hervey Bay is beautiful and the home of most of Rick's family.  We also attended Hervey Bay SDA Church while we were there and were met with a massive amount of support and christian love.  I will  miss my family and friends there very much. 

So where are we now?  Back in Port Stephens, infact we are only minutes away from our old house.  This area has a high demand on the rentals so we were blessed to get a house.  Being able to crack open our boxes of belongings and make this house our home has settled our troubled minds considerably.

And now another chapter begins.  Meanwhile, I'll be in the kitchen if you are looking for me (recipes to follow soon).


Just before we left we had some family photos on the beloved pier

We are going to miss the pier where we visited almost daily

Just a random photo in a park in Kempsey NSW on our way home

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