Saturday, 4 April 2020

Staying at home

Staying at home is nothing new for us.  In fact our current circumstances feel a bit like a usual weekend so we're dealing with it all fairly well here.

For the record, we're not in lockdown right now but there are a lot of restrictions in place.  In Australia, we have the advantage of seeing what's happened in the rest of the world and can get a head start on self-isolating and putting into place many of the practices other countries have been using.

I'm also trying to get as many walks in with Patch as I can, while I can.  Where we go is quite isolated (and very overgrown right now) so we've been happily enjoying our walks when we get the chance to have them.  Not only has it been wonderful walking in the fresh air for an hour but it's giving us a bit of a break from a constantly full and relatively small house.  I've been loving how many butterflies and dragonflies have been flying about when we walk.  There's so many of them and just a small thing like that can lift the spirits.

Today is also the first day of the school holidays but the kids have been off school for the last week and a half.  They made the school's here in Queensland student free for the last week of Term 1 for all except Health workers and others who need the support of the school's right now.  Hubby and I made the decision to take our kids out earlier as it didn't make sense to us when the government kept saying to social distance, only be in small groups etc and then said it's still safe to send all our kids to school.

Six months ago I would have freaked out at the thought of having the kids home and home schooling for a time.  After doing just that with Master M for most of the school year so far, I knew I could cope with it.  That's not to say I'm a great home schooling Mum.  In fact I'm completely crap at it as I learned very early on with Master M that I'm no teacher.

We just do the few tasks the kids have been set by their teacher and puddle along with other things.  If they're still home in Term 2 then things will have to change and I'll have to get with the program a bit more but the one thing I won't be doing is putting pressure on myself or the kids.

We have been baking.  They both love to help out with that and really enjoy it when they do cooking at school so we're trying to schedule that into our weeks as that's something I can handle.  We've made muffins and cakes but the main thing that Miss R wants to make and help with are dog biscuits for Patch.

They're really easy to make and since we don't have a dog bone biscuit cutter, he gets a tub full of hearts and stars.  It's a little embarrassing how excited he gets and how much drool lands on the floor when he knows he's getting one of these treats (or two depending on who is sneaking them to him).

They also freeze well so we keep enough out for 3 or 4 days worth and pop the rest in the freezer.  They go really mouldy quickly in our humidity so it's best to get out just a few at a time.

This is the recipe we use.

Dog Biscuits (Cookies)

2 cups Self Raising Flour (or 2 cups Plain/All purpose flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder)
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 eggs

Mix together with enough water to form a dough.  You'll need about 1/4 cup of water which I add about half first then about a tablespoon at a time until I get a dough consistency.  Roll out until the dough is about 1cm thick then cut out with whatever shapes you have and place on a baking tray.

Bake in a 180 C (375F) oven for 20 minutes.  Once cool watch them be devoured!

We have also been doing jigsaws.  For some reason we usually only ever seem to do jigsaws at Christmas time but I was de-cluttering the games cupboard the other day and found a few I had forgotten we had.

I always do my jigsaws on artists canvas which you can get from craft stores or many of the bargain stores around the place.  They're light and non-slip so the pieces don't slide off.

Most of the day the jigsaw sits on the dining table because you have to walk past it to get to anywhere in our house really.  So we just put in a piece or two as we're walking past then at meal times it's easy to pick up the canvas and move it to a coffee table or sit it on a bed without worrying about pieces falling off.

We're up to our third puzzle now and have a bit of a pile to get through so we'll happily chug along getting them done one piece at a time.

I've been doing plenty of crochet too but have just realised I have no photos of any of it.  I'll have to fix that over the next few days and give you a bit of a crafty update.

Until then my friends, stay safe and find some little bit of peace in your day if you can.  Patch and I are enjoying quiet moments outside after dinner.  The evenings have been beautiful and I'll head out there with a cup of tea (or wine if it's been that kind of day) and we just watch the amazingly clear night skies of late.  It's been a tonic.

xx Susan

Monday, 24 February 2020

Keeping busy

One thing I seem to be doing more of while we're still tweaking our new home schedule is craft.  Not just crochet but plenty of sewing as well and I'm really loving it.

I started to sort through my stash of fabric and decided to make more shopping bags as I really enjoy making them.  I also sold some of them just before Christmas as someone I had gifted some to wanted to purchase a few for Christmas gifts of their own.

So while Master M is doing some school work, I cut, pin, sew and press and keep myself occupied making bags.  While doing it I'm right on hand to help him and keep him on track too which is working out well.

The best thing is that I'm using up my stash and also selling some which is very gratifying.

As well as going through my fabric stash, I've been having a clean out of my yarn as well.  I've got a couple of scarves made in recent months which I don't think I've posted about yet so I'll have to go back a bit further in my photos to see if I can find some to show you.

Since it's been such a long hot and humid summer, working with wool hasn't really appealed so I've piled up all of my cotton and have been making dish and wash cloths.

The ones I use everyday were looking a little worse for wear so new ones have been much needed.  Very few of them are the same size since I'm using up all the tiny leftover bits that I'm never quite sure what to do with.

Even if I'm only making a half size one, I've been finding a great use for them and can whip one up in an hour, sometimes less if there's not much cotton.  They've also been a great small project when we're 'in school' too.

I admit that I did try my hand at amigurumi since I had so many small balls of cotton but I have to say that I really don't think I have the patience for it.  I love the end result but find all the bits and pieces that need joining together too fiddly so I'm not sure if I'll be doing much more of that in the future.

Enjoy your week!

xx Susan

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Miss R has a new bed

We have FINALLY put Miss R's new bed together after it sat in boxes in our hallway for weeks.

Her old bed was in the most horrendous condition and this time she got to choose which bed she wanted from what was on offer at IKEA.

She chose one of the day beds which has storage and a second bed can be extended as well.

She absolutely LOVES it!

I absolutely love the fact that I no longer bump into boxes when I'm checking on the kids at night!

I'm also hoping to slowly catch up with blogging and visiting my blog friends soon.

Anyone who has visited me recently will know that Master M has started High School and the last 6 - 12 months especially have been a bit stressful for him.  

He's also only going to school for one hour a day for now so we're really adjusting to things and trying new routines to see what's going to work best for us.  Well best for me anyway since it's my days that have just completely changed.

We're slowly getting there and I'm starting to feel like things are getting back on a more even keel so hopefully I'll be here a bit more in the future.

Until then, I hope you are all well and I look forward to catching up with my friends soon.

xx Susan

(P.S.  Yes, hubby and I are still married after putting the bed together!  :)  

Thursday, 16 January 2020

January... so far

I hadn't meant to go AWOL for so long but somehow I found myself flitting about, doing a multitude of things and realised I'd hardly turned my computer on in weeks.  It was quite refreshing actually and has helped me begin the year in a reasonably relaxed mode.

I have also been decluttering like a bit of a fiend.

I rarely make resolutions for the New Year but I've found that watching so many people in this beautiful country of ours lose everything in the horrific bushfires made me take stock of the clutter in our house.  I really looked at what we have and realise that we really don't need half of it.  So I've started 2020 with a fresh outlook and have been decluttering on a bit of a grand scale.

It's been quite uplifting and cleansing but I'm breaking it down into small areas and just doing a bit each day so I don't burn myself out and then stop completely because it all becomes too much.  So far things are going really well and I'm loving how much tidier and nicer some of the areas in our small home are already looking.

We have also had a couple of birthday's to celebrate already this month.  

Master M has turned 12!

It was a wonderful day full of pancakes for breaky, cake and candles and then off to the cinema to see the new Star Wars movie and dinner afterwards.  He loved his day!

Hubby's niece turned 21 on the first day of the year so the kids and I joined hubby's family for a nice lunch to help her celebrate.  Hubby was away at work so he missed out but we enjoyed ourselves and had a lovely day.

We've had plenty of laying about too...

In fact it's been a good mix of quiet, at home kind of days interspersed with a few outings here and there which we've all been enjoying.

This week seems to be full of appointments as we've been off to see a new paediatrician and have NDIS reviews and a few other things so I'm looking forward to relatively quiet and some less stressful days next week.  Then the week after that it will be back to school which we are as ready as we can be for.  

That's going to be whole new territory but we've got good plans in place and at least both kids will be at the same school which makes morning drop off and afternoon pick up so much easier.

I hope January is swinging along nicely for you too.

xx Susan

Monday, 23 December 2019

Gingerbread Muffins

In my last post I mentioned that Miss R wanted me to make Gingerbread muffins over the weekend.

I'm happy to report that one batch has been made but as there's not many left then I'll probably be making another batch on Christmas Eve.

This year we're having muffins and fruit for breakfast as I really like to start the day with as little fuss as possible. 

 As well as the Gingerbread muffins, I'll also make a batch of savoury cheese muffins to balance things out a bit.  Both kinds of muffins freeze really well and are great popped into the microwave for 30 or 40 seconds for a yummy breaky or snack at any time.

I usually ice my gingerbread muffins with a cream cheese icing although the traditional lemon icing would be beautiful too.  Master M doesn't like lemon or cream cheese icing but he loves the muffins plain so I always leave some un-iced just for him.

The mixture itself is quite liquid so don't panic if you think you've missed an ingredient.  It also fills 12 muffin cases up nearly to the top.  In the past I've used smaller cases and made around 20 or so muffins which is a nice little bite full but this time I've made them the normal size.

Gingerbread Muffins

1 cup of boiling water
1/4 cup of Golden Syrup *
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of salt

* (I think you use Corn Syrup in the USA or you could substitute maple syrup but I've never tried it with this).

Pour the boiling water into a bowl.  Add the syrup and bicarbonate soda and mix well then allow to cool slightly (I usually leave it about 5 minutes while I get the other ingredients ready).

Add the oil and eggs and mix until combined, then stir in the sugar.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined.  I usually use a whisk to get rid of any lumps.

Pour into 12 muffin tins lined with cases and bake at 180 C (375F) for approximately 20 minutes.

Once cooled top with icing if you wish.

Cream Cheese Icing

250g block of cream cheese, softened (e.g Philadelphia brand)
2/3 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together with an electric mixer until well combined and creamy.  It only needs a couple of minutes.


xx Susan

Friday, 20 December 2019

Celebration Day!

I can't believe that it's now over a week since Master M finished Primary school.  It's certainly the end of an era because my kids were 5th generation at that school and you don't hear or see that in many places anymore.

They have a bit of a tradition at the school that the graduating class gets to enjoy a special Celebration Day to finish of the year and as a fun farewell day before they head off to High school.

It's always held at Kings Beach in Caloundra and they get to play some games on the grassy areas, play in the fountains and swim in the pool.

The day was hot and sunny, but then that's about all it's been around here for months now.  Hats and sunscreen were a must and the kids had a great time being out of the classroom with their mates.

I think the pool was the most popular activity for the kids, followed closely by playing in the fountains as it gave them a chance to cool off.

I looked on with envy as they all enjoyed the pool but didn't have my togs with me.

Luckily the other fun part of the day is a special lunch at the Surf Club that the school organises every year.

The air conditioning was perfect and the view from my chair was pretty good too.....

There were also class parties to be enjoyed and cupcakes were requested as the dish of choice.  I really don't enjoy decorating cakes so I try to make things look as festive as possible with as little effort as possible.

I believe they were all inhaled relatively quickly :)

It's also been the only baking I've done in the lead up to Christmas so far.  It's been too hot and I really haven't felt like doing much in the kitchen at all but Miss R is nagging regularly requesting me to make the gingerbread muffins with cream cheese icing that I've been making the last few years so I believe I may be making some over the weekend.

I might make a double batch as they freeze really well and I can get the baking done on one day then put my feet up in front of the air conditioner while watching cricket and scoffing muffins.  Sounds like a plan!

I hope you are all enjoying a calm lead up to the holidays or you are at least able to find some calm in the frazzled moments.


xx Susan

Monday, 16 December 2019

Tree Day 2019

The annual Tree Day occurred at my sister's late last week.

For those that haven't read my blog over the last few years I'll give you a quick recap.

Since my brother's and my children were very young, we go over to my sister's house in early December each year and they decorate her Christmas tree and her house.

It's become a tradition that they all love and receive their first gift of the season which is a new decoration from my sister.  Often it's a special one from her travels like the gold plated maple leaf from Canada or the kilt wearing piper from Scotland.

As usual the morning started with the gifting of their new decoration.

Then they're given their boxes full of their decorations from previous years.  As they're getting older it's wonderful to hear them get excited about a special one they remember receiving.

Then it's time to decorate the tree and it's on this day each year when you realise just how much the kids are growing and how tall they're getting!  I remember when they were all little and the decorations were clustered around the bottom of the tree because that's as far as they could reach!

Sophie is always on hand to supervise and gets so excited to have all the kids there.  You can hear the poor old thing's joints creak as she tries to join in but she loves being with her kids too.

So Tree Day is over for another year and it's on with the preparations for Christmas which all of a sudden is hurtling towards us at great speed.

Hubby will be home in a few days and then we'll have him until just before New Years which is wonderful.  He was supposed to work Christmas this year but was able to wrangle the time off so we're looking forward to having him here.

What traditions do you all have with your family, whether for Christmas or for another occasion you celebrate?

xx Susan