Author Archives: therewasacrookedhouse

About therewasacrookedhouse

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

Easter Decorating

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I can’t believe that Easter is just around the corner.  I love this time of the year. The kids especially enjoy a bit of Easter decorating, and I thought I would share what we have out with you.

Starting outside in the kids’ play area….

Easter Decorating - There Was a Crooked House

Easter Decorating - There Was a Crooked House

I picked up this cute chalkboard bunting from the local variety store the other day.  I love bunting, and the idea of being able to change the message on it to suit the occasion, is perfect. I added it to the grass bunting I have already slung in our outdoor play area.  The rabbit wall art I picked up at a local gardening store.

There are also lots of families of bunnies throughout the house. The boys hate the idea of anyone being lonely.

Easter Decorating - There Was a Crooked House

Easter Decorating - There Was a Crooked House

Easter Decorating - There Was a Crooked House

Easter Decorating - There Was a Crooked House

As well as looking pretty, these baskets of plastic eggs are used in some educational games with the kids.  You can see some of my Easter inspired educational games here.

Easter Decorating - There Was a Crooked House

Easter Decorating - There Was a Crooked House

Easter Decorating - There Was a Crooked House

So there you have our Easter decorations so far.  I say so far, because the boys will no doubt find something else we, “Just have to have.”

Do you decorate your house at Easter?

Popcorn Words: Sight Word Organisation

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At my son’s school they call their sight words, Popcorn Words, as they ‘pop’ up all over the place. With a bit of time on my hands over the Christmas holidays, I thought I would make his sight word flash cards a little more interesting. This is what I did…..

I downloaded a picture of a piece of popcorn and replicated it over and over.  I then typed my son’s sight words over the top and printed them on cardstock.

Popcorn (Sight) Word Practise and Storage

I had intended on laminating the popcorn words to make them a little more sturdy but cutting them out once from the cardstock was more than enough. There was no way I was going to punish myself with cutting them out again!

As it is easy to forget popcorn word practice, I wanted a good storage solution for them.  One that was attractive enough to leave in the main areas of the house, so we would see it and remember to quiz Master O.  I purchased this ceramic popcorn container from Target.  If you are worried about it being broken, you can also pick up cardboard box versions in variety stores for next to nothing.

Popcorn (Sight) Word Practise and Storage

Popcorn word time is now rarely forgotten with this new storage solution and it is just a little bit more fun for a 6-year-old. I will post soon about some of the ways we mix up our popcorn word practice to make it interesting. Have a great day.

Popcorn (Sight) Word Practise and Storage

 

 

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.