Author Archives: therewasacrookedhouse

About therewasacrookedhouse

A Wife, Mum and Teacher who is determined to turn her life and home from crooked to spectacular.

Cleaning that is Kind to the Environment

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About a year ago I tried to limit my use of paper towel about the house.  I bought up a heap of white face washers and used them for cleaning in the place of paper towel.  It worked really well until my cloths became stained and ragged. I found myself less likely to reach into the kitchen cupboard to grab a cloth and more likely to use a paper towel again.

Feeling guilty, I got myself into gear and organised myself with a new set of cleaning cloths. This time I bought a HUGE bag of microfiber cloths. They will last longer than the face washers and will do a better job.  They also came in a variety of colours so that I could give each cleaning ‘zone’ a different coloured wipe.

Part of the problem with using cloths last time was the fact that they were tucked away in the cupboard.  I had the plan to keep them in a nice jar on the counter, but white clothes are only display-worthy for a month or so. These new microfiber cloths have been in use for over a month and still look new, so I repurposed a lolly jar I had in the cupboard as my cleaning cloth storage.

Environmental Cleaning

Until hubby gets the colour coding down pat, I have labelled the jars with a Sharpie…..I will no doubt have to look for a more permanent label :)

What environmental cleaning practises do you use?

 

 

 

Thermomix Sugar free Tomato Chutney

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I volunteered a while back to make some chutney for a local fundraising event. I had never made chutney so I was not too sure how I would go, but I backed myself and ended up making the most delicious tomato chutney. I know I sound a little conceited, but damn, that was good chutney!

I used raw sugar for the fundraiser chutney but I thought that I should have a go at making my own sugar free version. It worked out splendidly. This is the recipe I used.

Tomato Chutney (adapted from here)

Ingredients

•200 g red onion- peeled and quartered
•1000 g ripe tomatoes
•250 g Granny Smith apples-, peeled, cored & chopped into quarters
•60-80 g Natvia (depending on how sweet you like your chutney)
•200 g apple cider vinegar
•1/2 teaspoon allspice
•1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•2 whole cloves
•100 g sultanas
•2 teaspoons salt

Method

1. Peel the tomatoes by scoring the base of each tomato with a cross and either

  • placing in a large bowl and covering with boiling water, and leave for 5 minutes. Or,
  • Cover the blades in your bowl with water and place the tomatoes in the varoma and heat for 10-12 minutes, Varoma Temp, Speed 2

The skins should easily peel away from the cross at the base. Chop the peeled tomatoes into quarters.

2. Place the red onion and apple into bowl and chop for 5 seconds, Speed 6. Set aside.

3. Place tomatoes in bowl, chop for 5 seconds, Speed 5.

4.Add all other ingredients, including the apple and onion, and mix for 3 seconds, Reverse, Speed 4.

5. Cook for 60 minutes, 100 degrees, Reverse, Speed 1-2 with the basket on top of the bowl instead of the MC to prevent splashes

6. Increase temperature to Varoma, and cook for another 20 minutes, Reverse, Speed 1-2.

7.Test the consistency of the chutney by spooning a tablespoon of it onto a dish, then place it in the fridge for 5 minutes. If it’s still too runny, keep cooking at Varoma for 5-10 minutes and check again.

8. Place into sterilsed jars.

Note for those wanting to use sugar instead: The original recipe calls for 300 grams of raw sugar in place of the Natvia. Unless you like really sweet chutney, I would cut the 300 grams down to 200 grams, as this is still sweet.

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We are eating this chutney with everything. I especially love it on toast with cheese. Last night we had it with our steaks. Yum! Excuse me while I go get myself another spoonful.

Overnight Oats

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Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, but if I am not organised it can be the meal I end up missing. I have posted before about some of my time-saving breakfast ideas (you can read about them here) but my quick breakfast love of the moment is overnight oats.

This yummy breakfast can be made whatever way you fancy and days in advance. They are super quick to put together and are the ultimate ‘on the go’ breakfast food. But what I love most about overnight oats is that they are healthy, but taste oh so naughty!

These are the two I made yesterday for the boys and I – Raspberry and Coconut and Peanut Butter and Banana (banana to be added). You can see they were attacked before I could even take a picture!

Overnight Oats

I love opening my fridge and seeing these little bottles of yumminess waiting to be devoured in the morning.

Overnight Oats

There are some amazing overnight oat recipes that I am dying to try, so I have created a little Pinterest board. If you are wanting some overnight oat inspiration click on the link here.

How about you go whip yourself up a batch right now?

Meal Planning and Organising Recipes

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Life has been crazy about the Crooked Household and it is set to get crazier.

We have just had the inside of the house painted and the outside is soon to start. With that came A LOT of cleaning, redecorating and the implementation of some new organising systems. A bit of hard work, but a lot of fun for someone like me. I hope to share some of the changes  with you soon.

I am returning to part-time work shortly so lots of planning is underway so that it all goes smoothly. And so came about the topic of today’s blog post – meal planning and recipe organisation. I know that if I want to avoid ending up a frazzled mess that I need to have this sorted. So today, with the kids away at daycare and school, I sat down and planned my attack. Here is my planning thus far…..

1. What types of meals do I need?

I am lucky that with my teaching timetable that I only have one full day of teaching per week, the rest of the days I have to be in for morning or afternoon classes. This gives me some time for meal preparation, but I really want to avoid being stuck in the kitchen. So I need easy and quick meals and some good slow cooker and freezer meals. I also need a good freezer load of lunchbox treats for the boys.

2. Gathering the recipes

I keep most of my recipes on Pinterest. I have written about that here.

Using Pinterest to organise recipes 2

I also have quite a few Thermomix and Jamie Oliver cookbooks which are perfect for quick and easy meals.

Normally I am all for conserving paper, but until I have this ‘Working Mum’ thing under wraps, I thought it best to print or photocopy our most used recipes. This way they are easy to find, especially for hubby should he be on cooking duty.

3. Meal Planning

I am pretty happy with how I meal plan so that will be left as is.  I plan out what we will eat for dinner on the weekend and pin-up the recipe names on a magnetic board inside the pantry.

Meal Planner

You can read more about this here.

3. Storing the Recipes

I have broken the recipes up into categories – Baking, Breakfast, Easy Meals, Slow Cooker and Freezer Meals, and placed them into folders.

Organising recipes

These folders will sit in the kitchen in this nifty organiser I picked up from Kmart.

Organising recipes

Lots of other space for organising ‘things’ there. Exciting! Or,  perhaps tragic?

So there is one planning task ticked off the ‘To Do’ list.

Stay close by the blog in the next few weeks. I have lots to show you.

 

Remembering ANZAC Day with Children

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The 25th April – ANZAC Day, commemorates the sacrifice of all Australian men and women during times of war and occurs on the anniversary of one of the most significant battles involving troops from our newly formed nation.Remembering ANZAC Day

While I have watched the diggers at the ANZAC Day marches grow old and their numbers dwindle, the observance of this important national holiday seems to be very much alive and growing.

We have always attended the ANZAC Day march and service, but this year is probably the first year my eldest will grasp some of the significance of the day.  I want him to understand the importance of these people’s sacrifice, including that of his great, great-grandfather, great-grandfather and uncles, and the importance that these events have had on the history of our country and the world.

The boys waiting for the ANZAC Day Parade last year

The boys waiting for the ANZAC Day Parade last year

We have been reading a few story books about ANZAC Day to help him understand the events we commemorate and the way we remember them. These are our favourites so far.

Remembering ANZAC Day

Anzac Day Remembering ANZAC Day

Remembering ANZAC Day

Last week I also took the boys to the Queensland Museum.  It has two fitting displays related to the ANZAC legend. The first was The Courage of Ordinary Men. This exhibition was a moving display about 3 Australian diggers awarded the Victoria Cross medal for courage during WWI.Remembering ANZAC Day

The second exhibition was Remember Me: The Lost Diggers of Vingacourt, a collection of photographs of Australian troops taken in France while on leave from the frontline. They were lost until only 3 years ago. I fell  in love with these hauntingly beautiful sepia images. If you live in Australia, keep an eye out for it as it travels around the country over the next few years.

Last night we even made ANZAC biscuits to enjoy over the long weekend. Yum! Remembering ANZAC Day

Tomorrow we are off  to watch the parade my Grandfather used to march in when he was alive. Master O has picked out remembrance badges for all of us to wear and found an Australian flag to wave. He is excited. Success!

I hope you enjoy your long weekend if you are in Australia or New Zealand. Make sure that you check out your local ANZAC Day celebrations. Lest we forget.

Easter Weekend Baking

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I hope you all had a very enjoyable Easter. The four-day weekend was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and indulge in some extra special treats. This year I chose just a few sweet things to make over the weekend and they were more than enough. I though I would share what I created with links to the recipes.

Firstly, the most decadent baked caramel filled cheesecake. I will be making this again very shortly. We all loved it!

Easter Baking

My own take on Cinnamon/Snickerdoodle Cupcakes. I love anything cinnamon.Easter Baking

 

Easter Baking

The kids decorated their own cupcakes with the decorating kits I picked up at Kmart. They had lots of fun.Easter Baking

Easter Baking

Easter Baking

And what Easter would be complete without Hot Cross Buns? These are mini ones I made in the Thermomix.Easter Baking

What treats completed your Easter?

Homemade Ice Cream: No Churn, With and Without the Thermomix

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Since the Thermomix has joined the Crooked Household, we make nearly everything we eat using  just the basic fridge and pantry ingredients. However, after nearly 2 years of Thermomix ownership, I had not attempted to make traditional ice cream. We had made sorbet and cheat’s ice cream using frozen yoghurt or milk and fruit, but not that delicious creamy stuff.

We very rarely buy ice cream, there are just too many nasties in the store-bought stuff, so being able ‘healthify’ a treat was a great option.

The recipe I used was for traditional ice cream from the Thermomix Everyday Cookbook. It is so simple, quick and super delicious!

Homemade Ice Cream - Thermomix

To suit everyone in the household I removed the sugar and instead added a little Natvia (stevia) to sweeten. Next time I might try maple syrup.

To store this delicious concoction in, I purchased these Retro Kitchen containers. A 1 litre container and a set of 4 mini ice cream tubs. So cute!Homemade Ice Cream

Since this little adventure I have been looking into other ice cream recipes, in particular the no churn ones. It seems that the secret ingredient is condensed milk, which I have been wanting to make from scratch in the Thermomix (see recipe here). I am going to one or two of the following recipes a try over the Easter season. You don’t need to have a Thermomix for these recipes, just a hand beater or food processor.

No churn Vanilla Ice Cream 

Caramelised White Chocolate No Churn Ice Cream

Nigella’s Coffee No Churn Ice Cream

Here are my two monkeys enjoying their first taste of homemade ice cream. It got the thumbs up from them. Homemade Ice Cream

Do you make your own ice cream? I’d love to try your recipe.

Easter Themed Kids’ Activity Bags

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Now that I have been on a bit of a roll creating the Activity Bags for the kids, I had to make some Easter themed ones. You can see some of my other activity Bag posts here and here.

There is an abundance of Easter themed crafting items about at the moment so it was really easy to create these activities. Take a look….

Easter Egg Word Creation. A 3 letter word and picture clue.

Easter Themed Kid's Activity Bags

Easter Egg Colour Match. Match the top and bottom part of the egg to the picture.

Easter Themed Kid's Activity Bags

Easter Egg Number Match. Place the correct number and colour of  pom poms into the numbered egg.

Easter Themed Kid's Activity Bags

Easter Egg Colour Match. Place the correct coloured egg yolk into the egg.

Easter Themed Kid's Activity Bags

Easter Symbol Sequencing. Match the sequence on the cards using the correct symbols.Easter Themed Kid's Activity Bags

These fun activities live in an Easter gift bag by the garage so we can grab it when we are heading out.

Easter Themed Kid's Activity Bags

With Easter holidays starting at the end of this week, I can see these will get a good workout before Easter arrives.

Have a great day.

Little Boys’ Bedroom Redecoration

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Here is a little bedroom redecoration teaser…..I am waiting for the room to be repainted before I can really get my hands on the room but take a look at what I have already purchased for the redo…..

Just before Christmas we decided to move our two boys into a room together. We weren’t sure how it would all go, but we could not be happier.

The room was previously decorated in a dinosaur theme…… Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

And this worked for both of them while I could buy matching dinosaur linen for our youngest’s cot. However, once Master C moved to a big bed, I could no longer source a comforter to match his brother’s.  Apparently that is a big deal to a 2 year old.

So I was forced to visit my favourite Children’s linen store, Adair’s Kids ;) . Here we chose a travel/plane themed ‘Toby’ comforter and the matching cushions.

Decorating a Boy's Room

Decorating a Boy's Room

Decorating a Boy's Room

Isn’t the suitcase cushion the cutest!? That is what really sold me on the whole set.

I didn’t love the matching artwork that they sold in Adairs, so it took some hunting to come up with something to go on the walls.  Finally I found two very amazing Etsy stores with the most amazing prints.

Firstly, I picked up this set from the lovely Trish at Strawberry Jam Studio.

Redecorating Little Boys' Room

 

And here it is framed waiting to be hung in a freshly painted room. (Sorry for the poor picture, the weather here is still miserable!)

Decorating Little Boys' Room

I cannot rave enough about how amazing Trish’s customer service was. Thank you, Trish!

The colours perfectly suit the linen. The boys love the dog and giraffe flying the planes and I love the typography and quote.

The other piece I picked out for the room was this brightly coloured world map from Wallfry. Decorating Little Boys' Bedroom

Decorating Little Boys' RoomAgain, the colours are perfect and the Geography teacher in me loves a map.

So there is the start of the makeover. I am itching to sort out some better storage solutions in this room now that Master O has started school. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Amazing Hot Cross Buns

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I LOVE Hot Cross Buns.  Unlike others who groan at their appearance in the supermarket on Boxing Day, I am excited.

In the past I have had a few attempts at making my own, but I have never been able to master the texture.  They have either been too dense or too dry.

Last week though I made the best Hot Cross Bun I have EVER eaten! They were light, soft and perfectly spiced. Full of fruit and delightful with some butter.

After hearing it’s amazing reviews, I used the recipe from the Thermomix Everyday Cookbook. Making them in the Thermomix made the task so simple – all the more reason to bake them all the time. If you don’t have a Thermomix there is no reason why you can’t make these in a stand mixer or with good ol’ elbow grease. You can find a version of this recipe here.

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

To make these little baked goods healthier for my family, I used spelt flour and stevia to sweeten.  Quirky Cooking also makes some healthy substitutions to this recipe which you can see here.

Seriously, if you like Hot Cross Buns, go make this recipe – NOW. You will not be disappointed!