Monthly Archives: May 2013

Thermomixing: Chilli Jam

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I love adding a little chilli to my dishes.  I often pick up a huge bag of chillies for next to nothing at the farmer’s market every fortnight or so.  While I can get through quite a few, there is inevitably a few limpish, unused ones left at the end of the fortnight.  I didn’t really know what to do with these until I came across this recipe.

Chilli Jam (adapted from Steph Berg recipe)

Ingredients

6 long fresh red chillies

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup castor sugar

1 tsp salt

4 cloves garlic

2 tsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp agar agar

Method:

Trim the stems off the chillies

For a mild chilli flavour, deseeded the chillies.

You can make the jam milder again by soaking the chillies for 15 minutes in hot water then draining.

Put all the ingredients, except the agar agar in the Thermomix and process 10 seconds on speed 7.

Heat for 11 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 1.

Add the agar agar and cook for 4 minutes at 100 degrees at speed 1.

Pour into a sterilized jar.

Chilli Jam

I love chilli Jam heated and poured over Philly cheese as a quick and easy dip. Otherwise, it is great addition to a gourmet style hamburger.

That’s it….my mouth is watering. I’m off to try my creation now.

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Sometimes I Just Hate being Short….

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The cold weather is upon us here and I had to go out and buy myself some new winter gear.  You’d  think that would be exciting, hey? But winter means long pants and jeans and I am short.

Apparently, my 5’3″ height is short even by ‘short length’ pant standards, so all my pant purchases need to be re-hemmed.

After procrastinating for about 2 weeks, I finally altered all my new purchases. It wasn’t as difficult as I had remembered the task to be…..maybe my sewing skills have come along a little??

Hemming Pants

Before altering  my jeans I revisited two helpful tutorials at Do it Yourself Divas and Just Something I made.  These gals show you how to reuse the jean hem in your length alteration.  So simple and no need to worry about ruining the look of your distressed jeans with a crisp looking hem.

My next alteration task is shortening the cuffs on a jacket.  While my sewing skills have come along, I think I am still a way off doing cuffs.  Perhaps that is a job for a professional.

Do you have any helpful alteration tips for the vertically challenged?

Project Life Nook

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A little while back I wrote about starting up a Project Life album.  You can read that post here.  I was hesitant as to how committed I would be to the whole process, but I have found it so much fun and an easy creative outlet for time-poor me.

Once I realised just how much I liked it, I had to ‘organise’ myself and the project.  I set out to create a little Project Life  work station for myself.

In my study makeover, I had created more than enough bench space to dedicate to my Project Life materials. You can read about the study/craft room makeover here.

Study / Craft Room

On a shopping trip to Kmart I came across their new range of office supplies, that just happened to be in red polka dots, like my Project Life album.

Project Life

I picked up a set of tabbed folders that are perfect to hold layout ideas, kids’ art work, brochures and other nick nacks that I want to include in my album. I had a vertical file going unused, perfect for storing the folders in an easy-to-see manner.

Project Life Organisation

Project Life Organisation

I also scored a binder of cute sticky notes in various sizes.  I use these to make a note of dates, journal ideas or lists of photos to be inserted when I am yet to complete my layout.

Project Life Organisation

Finally, I grabbed a set of two boxes.  The smaller one fits my journaling cards, the larger one holds my favourite journaling pens, stamps and processed photos.

Project Life Organisation

Project Life Organisation

So here it is, all stowed on my craft bench….

Project Life Organisation

If I couldn’t make all my Project Life ‘stuff’  look neat, pretty and coordinated there is no way I would allow it to remain ‘on show’.  Keeping it visible is important to me, it reminds me of my goal to keep a better record of our lives and makes it easier to do so.

The big bonus to organising myself and making it look pretty is that it only cost me $8. Cha Ching!

 

 

Activity Packs – Keeping the Kids Busy and Learning at the Same Time.

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My 4-year-old is a very busy boy. He likes to be on the go all the time.  To avoid him getting into mischief if boredom hits, I have always carried a variety of activities and toys with us.

As school is fast approaching for him, I thought it would be good to create a few educational activity packs to play with.  I got the inspiration for the content from a visit to his new school.  So many great activities were going on in the prep classes.

Here is what I have created:

Sight Words

This activity helps children not only recognise letters but become familiar with sight words.

You can find printable lists and flash cards with sight words all over the net.  I used these ones from our state government website as they are written in the cursive font taught in Queensland schools. I printed each sight word onto coloured A5 paper and laminated them to create flash cards.  As there are 100 sight words, I have started with only printing 20.

Activity Packs - Sight Words

I then purchased a heap of cheap wooden pegs and using a marker, printed the letters from each sight word onto the pegs.

Activity Packs - Sight Words

I broke these 2o sight words up into 4 activities and placed them into large ziplock bags.

Activity Packs - Sight Words

To play, Master O must peg the correct letter to each sight word flash card until he has created each word. The action of pegging the letter to the flash card helps develop his fine motor skills.

Activity Packs - Sight Words

Activity Packs - Sight Words

Colour Matching and Fine Motor Training

This activity helps children learn colours, their spelling, as well as develop their fine motor skills.

I cut out various coloured card and laminated them to create flash cards.  I printed each colour’s name on the card in permanent pen.

Activity Packs - Colours & Fine Motor Skills

I picked up a bag of coloured match sticks, a container to hold them in and a pair of small  tongs from a variety store.

To play, Master O must pick up the matchsticks from the container and place them on the correct coloured flash card.  If I want to make things more difficult for him, I set up a stopwatch so he has to race the clock.  If he is feeling nimble, Master O can also use the tongs to place the matchsticks in patterns.

Activity Packs - Fine Motor Skills

Activity Packs - Fine Motor Skills

Master O thinks these activities are lots of fun and I love that they keep both his mind and body active. I have put together a few other activity packs, including some for my 18 month old that I will share with you soon.

Have a great day.

Documenting the Rhythm of My Children’s Day

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My youngest is in a Kindermusik class.  We both love it.

Our unit is called ‘The Rhythm of My Day’ and so it was suggested that each parent put together a little book illustrating the Rhythm of our child’s day. What a great idea!  Not only is it a great book for them to read and look at now, it will be a great book to look back on as they grow older, to see how the rhythm of their day has changed.

So over the last week or so, I have been photographing the common place activities in my 18 month old’s day….the nap times, play times, teeth brushing, lunch, dinner etcetera.  I have also started to compile them in a scrapbook album I picked up for just a few dollars at Kmart. Even without my planned embellishments (I can’t help myself), it already looks great.

Documenting the Rhythm of My Childrens' Day

Documenting the Rhythm of My Childrens 'Day

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Documenting the Rhythm of My Childrens 'Day

My 4 year old has also been interested in this project too.  Really, I shouldn’t be surprised.  Before he began Kindergarten, the centre gave him a picture book that outlined the ‘rhythm’ of a Kindergarten day.  He loved it and often recites the book as we drive to Kindergarten. When I suggested we make a ‘Rhythm of Oliver’s Day’ scrapbook, including pictures of him doing the activities, he was all for it.

Such a simple, yet fun, activity and keepsake.  I promise to share the completed books with you as soon as they are done.

Enjoy your day.

Making the Most of Departing Warmth

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I must apologise as I haven’t been around the blog much lately.  The days are getting shorter and nights more chilly Down Under, so most of us are trying to wring the last out of the sunny, warm days that remain in early Autumn/Fall.

Our little family has been hitting the outdoor activities pretty hard.  I have been snapping pics left, right and centre to get some good ones to put in my Project Life album (see post here).  Today I thought I would show you some of the activities we have been up to in this glorious weather.

Feeding the ducks and afternoon bike rides….. I thought I was being such a fun mum, whisking the boys off on an adventure after kindergarten.  All was going well until jealousy erupted over the choice of transport I brought for our bike ride.  Nothing says ‘fun’ like a crying 18 month old at the park!

Autumn Happenings Autumn Happenings

Autumn Happenings

Fishing….We all love throwing in a line and the thrill of winding in a fish.

Autumn Happenings

Autumn Happenings

Bush walks….This walking area had a playground and an education centre.  Many an hours could be spent here.

Autumn Happenings

Picnics and playing at the beach….This wasn’t one of the white sandy beaches I like going to.  This was a mud flat, mangrove beach the kids love to go to.  Lots of sticky mud and messy fun to be had.

Autumn Happenings

Autumn Happenings

Long drives and country shows…..we went to the Marburg show the other weekend.  It was great to see the horses and cattle, check out the ute muster and flower, cooking and art competitions.

Autumn Happenings

Winery lunch….We have a lovely winery with a greatcellar door restaurant not too far from us.  You get to sit under shady trees, looking out over green, grassy hills.  completely relaxing.

Autumn Happenings

As soon as the weather cools down completely, I know I will be about the blog a lot more, but for the moment I want to savour this joyous weather. I hope wherever you are, you too are enjoying wonderful weather.

Dabbling in Freezer Cooking

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After a visit to my favourite butcher who sells bulk meat, I dreaded the prospect of breaking the meat up into batches and vacuum sealing  it to be frozen.  I did however, feel slightly more enthusiastic about cooking.  So I set out to make some freezer meals.

I have at various times dabbled in freezer cooking.  I certainly loved the convenience of having ready-made meals when I was busy at work or when I was a new mum.  I didn’t hate the cooking days, in fact I quite liked them. So I wondered why I never really stuck to it and made an art of it.

I think in my case it came down to not having enough of a freezer meal catalogue.  In the old days I made the same things ….spaghetti sauce, lasagne, cottage pie, a curry or two and soups. Boring. If only I had looked to the internet for inspiration!

There are hundred of sites and bloggers out there praising freezer cooking.  Many have it down to a fine art – menu plans, recipes, shopping lists, cooking days, even providing sticker templates to print and  attach to your made meal.  There are thousands of amazing recipes out there to suit every taste and even cooking preference.  It really is an eye opener.

As it is coming into winter here in the Southern hemisphere, I am keen to get the slow cooker working.  I found whole sites devoted to creating frozen baggies of ingredients, that you defrost and pop into the crock pot to cook.  Really, who thought you could make crock pot cooking even easier than it already was?

The more I traversed the sites, the more I was beginning to be sold on the idea of freezer cooking.  I don’t know that I would have the majority of meals out of the freezer as I like to eat a fresh, clean and raw as possible, but it definitely has benefits.  It undoubtably saves money as you can shop the sale items and use seasonal produce.  You are less likely to resort to expensive take out on the days when you don’t feel like cooking.  I can see there would be less washing up and probably less food waste.

So if you are keen to dabble in freezer cooking like me, here are some sites that are worth a visit.

Money Saving Mom – Huge recipe selection and some great printables for those organising freaks, like me.

One a Month Mom – Everything you need to be a freezer cooking genius.  Menu plans for all sorts of dietary needs including paleo, vegetarian and baby. Heaps available for free on the site or become a member to receive ongoing menus and recipes.

Who Needs a Cape? – Make 40 meals in 4 hours! Lots of crock pot freezer recipes here.

Life as Mom – Lots of tips on how to freezer cook and every month a new cooking plan to follow.

I have also started to pin some of my favourite freezer meals.  You are welcome to follow along here.

So what did I cook and freeze the other day, you ask?

Freezer Meals

Healthy Butter Chicken – I used a fantastic spice mix from this company

lasagne

Chicken enchiladas

Freezer Meals

Slow cooker braised lamb

Freezer Bread

Pear and raspberry coconut bread.  Yummo! I will share this recipe with you soon.

If you are interested in freezer cooking, be sure to follow along.  I intend to do a lot more freezer cooking and I will share what I make on here.

Have a great day.