Monthly Archives: April 2013

Know Your Feel Good Clean

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The weekend has left the Crooked Household….well…..crooked. Today is one of those days, where you can see there are a million things that need to be cleaned, done and fixed, but you just don’t know where to start.  You know there is no chance that you will get everything done and the whole thing is making  you annoyed.

It’s on days like this you need to do your Feel Good Clean before you tackle anything else.  You know what I mean, the cleaning tasks that take little effort but show big gains.  The tasks that instantly make your house feel lighter, cleaner and less cluttered.  The tasks that make you feel better about your home.

Everyone’s Feel Good Clean is different.  If you haven’t really thought about what those cleaning tasks are for you, they are most probably the ones you rush to when you get a last minute house guest.

Today I thought I would share with you my Feel Good Cleaning tasks.

1. Vacuum. Since having children and all the floor mess that comes along with them, I have perfected the art of the quick vacuum clean. Heaven help the toy or child that gets in the way of Mum with the Dyson.

2. Mop. Again I have perfected the quick mop.  When I want fast results I use a microfibre mop head with just a spritz of water.  The floor is cleaned really well and it is dry and ready to walk on in a minute.

Microfibre Mop

3. Make the beds.  Don’t worry, we always make the beds, but it is on my Feel Good Clean list as it instantly makes the bedrooms look neater.

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

4. Tidy the kitchen benchtops.  We have an open plan house so the kitchen is visible from the living areas.  By removing the everyday clutter – books, loaves of bread, dishes and appliances,  I feel the house is less cluttered.

5. Polish the dining room table.  Again, as we have an open plan house and a glass dining table, the sticky little finger marks from meal times are visible to one and all.

6. Straighten couch cushions and floor rug.  Nothing entertains my boys more than messing with the couch cushions and sliding about on the rug.  Straightening them will most likely last about 20 minutes,  but for those 20 minutes, my lounge room looks good.

7. Clean the windows. The rear of our house, the living area, is almost entirely made up of glass.  When I do a Feel Good Clean I choose one or two sections of glass and give them a polish.  You can read how I have made cleaning window’s easier here. Nothing makes me happier than looking out of my freshly cleaned windows.  Weird, huh?

glass-mirror-wipes-viva

I did all of these jobs in just over 30 minutes this morning.  I was a whirlwind, but at the end of it the house looked neater and I felt a whole heap better.

I also scored some bonus cleaning in that time by warning the kids I was about to vacuum and mop.  They instantly jumped into protection mode, packing away toys and parking them on their play mat. Score!

What are your Feel Good Cleaning jobs?

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Cute Bedroom Art

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I was lucky enough to have some kid-free time today to have a browse of the shops.  One store I love to have a look in when I am unhindered by children is Typo. It has great stationery and homewares and is very well priced.

After picking up some great pens on sale to do my Project Life journaling, I was drawn to their range of freestanding letters and letter canvases.  It is ridiculous how much I love typography.

I couldn’t leave without picking up these cute little canvases to pop into the master bedroom, which is getting a little bit of a revamp at the moment.

Cute bedroom art

The letters and symbols are printed on burlap and strung on a canvas frame.

I picked these three up for $10.  I probably couldn’t make them for this price.  However, what a fun project it would be to make your own if you had leftover materials and supplies on hand.  Print or stencil your letters or symbols on your fabric and staple it to canvases or frames.

Until I find the perfect home for these, they will sit on the low boy in the bedroom.  Cute.

Cute Bedroom Art

 

Starting Project Life

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A few years back I tried, desperately, to scrapbook.  I love taking photos, I love making things look pretty but I just couldn’t find the time or patience to really get into it.  I then stumbled across Project Life – an easy but still creative way to memory keep.   I ummed and ahhed at committing and decided to first see if I could just keep a hard copy album with just a few favourite photos from each week of 2012.  Unfortunately, I sailed through to mid February and then the rest of the year’s photos are sitting in a folder on a printing website.  

It was a persuasive friend, who had just stumbled on Project Life last week that convinced me to commit and really give it a go.  She too was worried about whether the enthusiasm would last but together we have vowed to keep each other on track.  

So I have jumped in headfirst.  I have bought an album, some page protectors and a Project Life Cherry Core Kit.  I promptly uploaded my chosen photos from this year to a printing website and I am waiting for them to be delivered.  I downloaded Adobe Photoshop Elements and taught myself, painfully, how to do a few simple edits of my photos. And today I am starting my journaling.

Project Life

I have out my pretty pens, my planner, family calendar and phone calendar, ready to piece together the year thus far.  I worry that it will be a big job, but I hope the enthusiasm I have now will motivate me to get up to date.  Then the hope is that with just a little time each week or so, I will be able to see the year out with a complete Project Life album.  The ultimate dream is to be so motivated as to go back and complete a Project Life album for last year.  We will see.

If you scrapbook or use Project Life and write about it, I would love to read your blog.  Leave me a link to your blog in the comments.

Have a great day.

 

Time for a Change

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The other week I was just not feeling the ‘vibe’ in my lounge room.   The room needed a change.  I needed a change.

Before I had a chance to spiral into a lounge room funk, grab the credit card and hit the shops for a new look, I pulled out the sewing machine.

One of the easiest decorating changes that can be made in a lounge room is to add new throw cushions.  They can change the whole feel of the room on the smallest of budgets.

I had bought some great material some time back in red and aqua.  I loved the patterns and the colours were perfect for the lounge room.  The red was already the highlighted colour in the room, but the blue could help tie in the tones of the photo canvas collage hung on the wall.

Photo Canvas Collage

Before I really had time to think about it, I had run up 5 envelope cushions.  You can read my tutorial on how to make these easy pillow slips here.

Time for a Change : Cushions

I like the two patterns and colours together. The aqua and white has really given the lounge a lift.

A few days after I threw together the new cushions, I was at Ikea and picked up this warm aqua throw for next to nothing.  It should help to keep us cozy as the cooler weather sets in.

A Time for a Change: Cushions

So on a little budget, with just a bit of time invested, I was able to give the lounge room (and myself) a lift.

 

 

A Bedroom for a Dinosaur Loving Boy

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It occurred to me the other day, as I was giving Master O’s room a quick tidy, that I hadn’t shown you all the changes we made in his room.

Towards the end of last year, as Master O’s 4th birthday loomed, we struggled to find him a present.  We really didn’t want to buy him toys as we knew he would receive more than enough as gifts from the family.  I really had no inspiration until I found myself staring absent-mindedly into a store window while waiting for my sister.  As she arrived and I turned to leave, I realised what I had been staring at…..the cutest range of dinosaur linen and accessories on a fantastic sale.  There and then I decided his present would have to be a dinosaur room makeover.

The day before his birthday party, while he was a daycare, I set about transforming his room.  Previously it had sported a nautical/pirate theme which I shared in these posts here and here, but this is what it looked like on the morning I started the transformation.

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

After a good clean up and rearrange, followed by the addition of  the new duvet cover, matching cushions and bunting, the room looked a lot fresher.Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

I added a few other nick nacks that suited the theme, like these cute bookends.

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

I had already added a padded cushion to the Trofast toy storage units to make a reading seat, but now I could see how well my colour choice matched with the linen. You can read about how I made the seat  here.  A little rearranging of the Trofast tubs I already owned enabled me to bring the colour green into this area of the room as well.

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

I had tried to purchase some artwork for the walls in time for his birthday but I couldn’t find anything that matched the colour scheme. Master O didn’t mind, he was chuffed with the transformation.  The walls remained blank until about 3 months ago when I returned to the linen store and found a matching dinosaur canvas in stock.

Dinosaur Themed Boy's Room

So with one wall decorated,  I thought I might have to make something for the other wall – but what?  On holidays last month I came across a stall that sold all manner of dinosaur cutouts,  2D and 3D.  The were amazing and so well priced that I had to be restrained.  I purchased 2 x 2D cutouts and after a bit of spray paint, attached them each to a canvas.  It was a such a simple art solution and they really do pop with their shiny bright orange paint.

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

The other purchase I made was 3D pterodactyl.  After a couple of coats, also in the bright orange paint, I attached him to the ceiling.  I was concerned that he might be a bit scary for a 4-year-old, woken in the middle of the night, but Master O has entrusted the pterodactyl with the task of keeping him safe.

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

So after stalling for nearly 4 months with the artwork, the room is pretty much complete now.  Master O received a couple a big dinosaur figurines for his birthday and Christmas that fit in perfectly with the colour scheme so they now reside on top of his Trofast unit and look very much at home.  We also picked up a hat stand shaped like a tree on sale at Target.  It is the perfect place to hang his Kindergarten and library bags when it is not some how involved in some imaginative dinosaur play.

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

This really has evolved into the perfect room for our dinosaur loving boy.  What are you favourite themes for little boy’s rooms?

Weekend Cooking

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It is not often that we are about the house on the weekend so I don’t do a lot of cooking.  However, this weekend I made a bit of an effort and ended up making some lovely things.  When I say ‘effort’, it wasn’t that great as most of the recipes were done in the Thermomix. I really can’t explain just how much of a marvel the Thermomix is.  If you don’t have one, don’t let that put you off clicking on the links to the recipes as most could be done without it, or perhaps completed with another appliance that you have.

Have a look at my creations, I am more than a little proud of some of them…..

Apple Porridge made in the Thermomix while I got ready for the morning.  It can’t get much easier than that!  The boys LOVED it.  Recipe is here.

Apple Porridge

Banana and Coconut Bread.  We all loved this.  The recipe is one for the Thermomix but easy and well worth adapting if you don’t have one.  I also had my first attempt at scrolls.  These were spinach and feta.  Yummo. A fantastic brunch or lunchbox food.  You can find the recipe here.

Banana and Coconut Bread & Spinach and Feta Scrolls

Healthy Banana Ice Cream.  This is made with just a little sugar (or in our case dextrose), frozen skim milk and frozen banana.  It is just like soft serve ice cream without the guilt. I will post more about easy ice creams made in the Thermomix soon.

Healthy Banana Ice Cream

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mocha.  This recipe calls for cocoa, but I have been right into using raw cacao and I am convinced of  the health benefits.  Hubby and I love this rich drink.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mocha

Mango, Banana and Apple Green Smoothie.  This was my own concoction but you can read about my green smoothies here. This one was demolished by my boys in seconds, despite them watching two big handfuls of spinach going into the mix.

Mango, Banana and Apple Green Smoothie

Chinese Combination Short Long Soup.  I did freestyle with this recipe and added things I knew we would like.  It was a hit all round.  Master C loved the dumplings.

Chinese Combination Short Long Soup

Another dish that I stupidly didn’t photograph, despite the fact it was the stand out dish of the weekend, was Singapore Noodles.  Oh. So. Yummy. Instead of making it with vermicelli noodles, I used angel hair slim noodles which have less than 7 calories per serve.  The meal had next to no calories and was so filling.  I can see this appearing regularly on my meal plans.

I’d love to hear whether you get up to cooking or baking on the weekends or is that your ‘time off’?  Have a great week.

Thermomixing: Naturally Sweetened Jam

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Like most kiddies, my children love jam.  I mean, why wouldn’t they?  It is sticky and beautifully sweet and there in lies the problem.  Jam is a no-no when you are trying to cut down on sugar and eliminate refined sugar.

Since the addition of the Thermomix into the household, I have wanted to have a go a making my own healthy jam.  So when I picked up two huge punnets of strawberries, the mission to find the right recipe was underway.

One of my favourite blogs for healthy Thermomix recipes is Quirky Cooking.  Not surprisingly, Jo had the perfect recipe for a naturally sweetened jam recipe.  To my great joy, it was super easy (isn’t everything with a Thermomix anyway?) and within seconds I was in the kitchen making jam.

Naturally Sweetened Jam

Ingredients

  • 500 g of your chosen fruit (I used strawberries)
  • 150 g rapadura sugar (or use another sweetener like honey,  stevia etc)
  • 1 level teaspoon agar-agar

Method

  1. Place a saucer, for testing the jam, in the freezer to cool.
  2. Place fruit in the Thermomix and chop for 3-5 seconds on speed 4, depending on how chunky you like your jam
  3. Add sugar and agar-agar and cook for 8 minutes/100 degrees/ reverse/ Speed 2.  If you prefer a smooth jam like we do, don’t put the machine in reverse and give the whole mix a blitz at speed 8 for a few seconds once the cooking is done.
  4.  To test the jam, take 1/2 teaspoon of jam and place it on the chilled saucer.  Once the jam has cooled, push it with your finger.  If the mixture ‘wrinkles’ it is ready.  If your jam requires a little more setting, add a pinch more agar-agar, cook for a further 2 minutes and test again.
  5. Pour the jam into sterilised jars and keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Everyone loved this jam. Unlike the store-bought jams, it was not sickly sweet and tasted like strawberries.

Naturally Sweetened Jam

It is possible to omit all sweeteners from this recipe and I am keen to try that when strawberries are at their sweetest.

I definitely recommend giving this recipe a go.