Author Archives: therewasacrookedhouse

About therewasacrookedhouse

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

Christmas Wrapping

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I don’t know about you, but I am not in love with wrapping Christmas presents.  Wrestling acres of paper and finding the often invisible end of the sticky tape annoys me greatly.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I love more than the look of nicely wrapped presents below the Christmas tree, but because wrapping seems like such a chore, my gifts often lack the wrapped prettiness that I appreciate so much on others’ gifts to me.

This year I have decided to put a little more thought into gift wrapping.  I have come up with a theme, nothing too fancy or difficult, because my aim is to not become too flustered with the wrapping but to still love the look of my finished gifts.

Christmas Wrapping

I chose textured brown paper for my wrapping this year.  At risk of sounding like a bad presenter on Better Homes and Gardens, I am in love with this organic look. I was going to tie each present with some simple brown twine but the boys convinced me to go with ‘fancy’ red and white twine.

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To keep things feeling rustic, I found some chalkboard gift tags online and printed these off on card. There are a heap of free printable chalkboard Christmas gift tags online if you wanted to get some for yourself. Take a look here and here for some cute ones. For the adults I used real Chalkboard tags I picked up from a variety store.

Christmas Wrapping

So in less time than it has ever taken me before, I wrapped all my Christmas presents. While I am no master wrapper, they look good under the tree because they match….no higgledy piggledy looking display this year!

Christmas Wrapping

 Do you have a Christmas wrapping theme?

Festive Food: White Chocolate and Macadamia Rocky Road

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I am a sucker for white chocolate, so this festive rocky road is a must make at Christmas.  This always gets gobbled up at any party.

White Chocolate and Macadamia Rocky Road

Ingredients

250 grams marshmallows, halved

100 grams dried cranberries

100 grams macadamias, roughly chopped

60 grams pistachios (optional – but highly recommend)

35 grams desiccated coconut

360 grams good-quality white chocolate

 

Method

1. Line a 20 cm square cake pan with baking paper, allowing some overhang on the sides

2. Lightly toast the nuts in a pan on the stove

3. Combine the toasted nuts, marshmallows, coconut and cranberries in a bowl

4. Melt the white chocolate. You can do this over a water bath or in a medium-high microwave for 1-2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir.

5. Pour the chocolate over the marshmallow mixture and stir well.

6. Spoon the rocky road mix into your prepared tin and chill for 2 hours before cutting into squares with a warm knife.

White Chocolate and Macadamia Rocky Road

There are a few other things that I love to make at Christmas time. I hope to share these with your soon.

Have a great weekend.

 

The Softest Playdough and Printable Playdough Fun

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I started my Christmas holidays today and have been craving some Mummy and sons time, so I thought we would do some fun play.  As it is terribly overcast and humid here in Brisbane, we opted for some indoor fun in the air-conditioning.

'Just think...summer's coming, and  everyday will be like Saturday morning!'

Both my boys love playdough.  Recently I saw a recipe for the easiest, softest, most beautifully smelling playdough.  It only has 2 ingredients, one of which you would never guess, and takes only a few minutes to make. You must give it a go….

Soft Playdough

Mix 2 parts cornflour (corn starch) to 1 part hair conditioner.

Knead until it comes together in a soft dough. At this point you can colour it with food dye.

Play!

Soft Playdough Recipe and Playdough Printables

It really is that simple.  I picked up a cheap conditioner at the shops that had a lovely smell and pink colour, so I didn’t have to dye the dough myself. Obviously, this isn’t a playdough for little ones who might be tempted to taste their dough creations.

The boys have spent the morning playing with this as well as some free playdough printables I found on the net.  I printed and laminated them so they will survive the holiday season.

Soft Playdough Recipe and Playdough Printables

You can find these playdough mats at Tot Schooling .  Another place to look is Busy Little Bugs.

Soft Playdough Recipe and Playdough Printables

 

The Playdough puppets are found at the Nuture Store.

What a lovely, simple activity for us to start the Christmas holidays with.

 

 

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.