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

Friday, 6 December 2019

This year's advent

Each year I like to do my own special advent celebration that doesn't involve chocolate and lollies.  Usually I'll burn an advent candle but I've found that I get side tracked and it often burns down two or three days at one time.

Last year I found an advent calendar at Kmart that had a different scented tea light candle in it for each day.  That ended up being the perfect calendar for me and this year I wanted to do the same kind of thing.

I didn't find one already made up, but then I didn't really look either.  I just decided that I would burn one special tea light candle each day for my own little celebration.  I ended up buying a pack of berry scented candles at Ikea which fit the bill perfectly and fill my house with a really subtle berry smell.

I also ended up buying a larger berry scented candle and a vanilla one for if I decide to burn one for awhile at night after the 'kitchen's closed'.

I only ever burn candles on my kitchen hotplate as our whole house is wood and I hate the thought of candles burning in bedrooms or even our lounge room.  The kitchen's the hub of our house so one candle burning there is quite comforting.

It's also a practical bonus for our summer when the power often goes out, especially if there's a storm.  Then it's usually Uno or a board game by candlelight until either the power comes back on or it's time for bed.

The kids have had a felt advent calendar for about the past 10 years too.  There's a little felted present attached which gets moved to the next pocket each day and they love this little one.  They also love their chocolate (Master M) and candy (Miss R) calendar that they get each year too.  I think there would be a mutiny if they didn't have one of those!

There have also been some yummy treats made at school.  Master M made a gingerbread house although there's no gingerbread in sight.  It was made out of different kinds of biscuits and lollies and plastered together with icing.

Miss R made a pretty scrumptious caramel and custard tart at school too.  I was good and only indulged in half of one as they both brought these treats home on the same day and I was being forced to sample both of them!

I hope the weeks are being good to you and that you're coping with this endless horrible heat if you're in my part of the world.  I can't believe it's going to be 40 degrees celsius for the next couple of days and that we've hardly had a day under 30 celsius in the last month.  That's a Queensland summer for you though I suppose.

For my northern hemisphere readers where it is cold, misty, snowy or raining, please prepare a spare bed as I may end up moving in soon! :) 

xx Susan

Friday, 29 November 2019

Leading up to Christmas

That moment I've been dreading for years finally came around this week and wasn't as traumatic as I thought it would be.  So yes, Santa is out of the sack in our house now (I'm sure you all know what I mean), and that's all I'm going to say on that so there are no spoilers.  

I have to admit that I am relieved.

On the crafting front, I've finally finished the shopping bags I've been sewing for the teacher's gifts.  I've even got a few extras to add to my gift stash and am loving the way these have turned out.

They really are the perfect gift as they fold up quite small and are something a little different and unique to all the other generic shopping bags you buy.  

I love all the different ones of mine that I've made over the years and use them all the time.

They're also easy care as they get thrown in the washing machine regularly and are good to go again.  In fact one of the ones I'm still using I made about 8 years ago.

The crochet has been trundling along very, very slowly.  It's been way too hot to work with anything wool, even with the air conditioners on but I've decided that I really want to finish this wrap by the end of the weekend if I can.

Things have also been very hectic around here too which is why things on the craft front have been slow.  There have been NDIS meetings, a couple of paediatric appointments, psychologists and equine therapists for the kids and plenty of school visits.

As the end of the school year draws closer and the final weeks of Master M's time at primary school comes to a close, things have been pretty stressful.  In fact the past 6 months or so have been very stressful for him because he's freaking out about going to high school.

He really doesn't cope with change well and the thought of high school has been daunting for him so I'm often getting phone calls from the school and have to drop everything and run to pick him up.  I can only make appointments and plans for myself when hubby is home from work so I know there will at least be one of us here for him if needed.

Both schools (primary and high school) have been incredible and so supportive with him.  He's already had a number of transition days where he goes to the high school for a small period and is getting used to the sensory room they have there.  

We go in every Wednesday morning when we drop Miss R off at school and he spends some time in there before we head off to his school.  He's slowly getting used to it and we'll have more chance of actually getting him through the gate next year.

He also has a specialised program where he will only attend school for one hour a day to begin with and we'll build on it from there so in effect, I'll be home schooling for a good part of the first half of next year.  I'm not sure how I'm going to cope with that!

We've already got his uniform for next year.  They didn't have everything in stock as they don't get the next shipment until a couple of weeks before the next school year begins but I wanted to be able to try the sizes out when he was on his own so he wouldn't freak out.  So he'll start the year with his new uniform and I'll pick the rest of it up once he's started and he doesn't have to be there for that.

All I can say is that if anyone has a child that is having difficulty with transitioning or any other problem, just talk to whoever you need to at the school and they are usually really receptive to helping you.  The key is to ask and to work together because the child is the one that needs the support of both school and home.

I hope you're all having a wonderful week.

xx Susan

Monday, 11 November 2019

A date lunch and other things

I feel like we're hurtling towards the end of the school year at an alarming rate.  

I start to think that things are slowing down and I can catch a breath but next thing I know our calendars are full again.  I'm learning quickly to manage things when they crop up as well as to take the spur of the moment opportunites to relax and do something with those I love.

Last week was the perfect case in point.  I feel like I'm up to my ears in paperwork of some kind lately and in the middle of what ended up being a really busy week, hubby and I were able to spend some time together.

While out and about up the coast we were able to squeeze in a wonderful lunch at The Bridge Seafoods at Mooloolaba

We ended up sharing the seafood platter which was very, very tasty and full of prawns, oysters, sand crab, moreton bay bugs, chips and calamari.  It's been ages since we've done something like this and was just the tonic in an otherwise busy week.

My Dad is also home from hospital.  There were a few issues and delays with his recovery as he had to have a few blood transfusions and there was a problem with his wound not draining properly but the surgeon was really happy with how the hip replacement operation itself went.

He ended up in hospital for 9 days but is home now and recovering as well as can be expected.  He's sore of course and the heat we are experiencing right now probably isn't helping.

It's been pretty terrible with temperatures in the mid to high 30's Celsius most days.  Some days are dropping to just below 30 (today is forecast for 29 Celsius) but it's still really muggy and humid.  The rest of the week they're forecasting it to be back in the mid to high 30's and it's not even summer yet!

Anyone that has been reading my blog for awhile knows that I don't like the heat and don't cope with it very well which is a bit ridiculous when I live in such a warm climate.

At the moment though it's even worse because there are so many devastating fires about.  Outside is a constant haze of smoke from fires up near Noosa, and Central Queensland and northern New South Wales are especially experiencing some horrendous fire storms.

Everything is incredibly dry and there's no rain in sight to help give some relief to the exhausted fire fighters who are doing an incredible job.

So for now, we're just continuing on as best we can and dealing with what's in front of us.  We're also very aware of how fortunate we are that we're not in the pathway of any fires, but you can't be too careful as mother nature is so unpredictable and everything is so dry.

As a result of everything else going on, I haven't been getting much crochet done.  I can say that I'm about to start on the purple section of my latest make which is the last colour change.

Since I'm making it with a wool mix I'm only working on it when I have the air conditioners on of course!

I hope everyone is safe where you are and are able to enjoy your week.

xx Susan