Weekend Snaps

What a great weekend.
Friends.
Frugal furniture find – a vintage tea trolley!
Incredible food (My Kitchen Rules comp with friends).
Furniture reshuffling.
Chai tea.

Phew, but YIEW!!

Uni again tomorrow…

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Around the world on a grocery budget

I’d love to travel the world with my family. I’d love to experience the richness of other cultures with the lads. I’m not a seasoned traveller by any stretch, but the few trips I’ve made to various Asian countries have left wonderful memories, firmly implanted on my taste buds.
I look forward to taking the lads on their first international journey, hopefully in the next year. But until that time, we are going around the world on a grocery budget, and its proving to be quite the journey!

We have decided to be much more adventurous with our taste buds whilst exploring cuisine from around the globe. This is how it’s going to work:
We will take it in turns choosing a country, then look through recipe books and find a dish we want to create.

Isaac was the first cab off the rank, choosing Jamaica. He’s a big Bolt fan, so I’m pretty sure we know the source of his inspiration: Eat like Usain, run like Usain.
Jerk Chicken served with coconut bean rice was our first experiment. I salivate even thinking about it!!

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My choice for this evening was Morocco. To be honest, I had my doubts that the lads would come at Harira. Boy was I wrong!!!

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One thing I really loved about tonight, apart from the fact that I am beginning to realise I’m a damn good cook, is that we embraced the Moroccan custom of sharing a bowl around the table to wash our hands before eating. This added another dimension to our experience. I will be looking for other such customs to include in our international foodie family evenings as we go on.

I’m going to create a recipe book using our photos and memories of our family experiment and if I’m organised enough, give this as a gift to our family at Christmas.

Asher has chosen France for next week. He’s convinced he wants to eat snails. Bon appetit!

Australia Day Long Weekend

Fires ravaged parts of our beautiful state three weeks ago. Yesterday we returned to our favourite fish and chip market for lunch, in the devastated town of Dunalley. The townsfolk are nothing short of inspiring as they face incredible adversity with huge Aussie grins and true mate ship.

The lads barely spoke a word as we took the same road to Dunalley that we took three weeks ago, the day before the fires. It was an experience they will never forget, as they saw firsthand how much work is yet to be done before these people will once again have their own roof over their heads.

The rest of the pictures tell the story of a relaxing weekend in the sun, celebrating some of the simple things we love in our beautiful country – cricket, barbecues, beaches, bikes, fun and friends.

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Oh my darling, lemon time!

Cupcakes are fun, don’t you think? I decided I wanted to bake today. I had a bowl of lemons from my Dad’s tree, so the winner is…..
lemon cupcakes!

I wish I could tell you that I pulled out the family recipe book that has been handed down through the generations, but there is no such thing. (I could blog about the flavours of my childhood, but that may traumatise you.) I did the next best thing and grabbed the iPad, googled “lemon cupcakes” and clicked on this:
Lemon Cupcakes

I’m gluten free, so I just substitute the flour with GF.

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We sat down with my late Grandmother’s tea set and munched our yummy treat. I made a pot of Earl Grey and forced Matt to sip it out of a tea cup he could barely hold onto. He’s not that into drinking from quaint tea cups, so that was fun to watch. I’m a big believer in making an event of the simple things, like a cup of tea.

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With the leftover lemons I made a batch of old fashioned lemonade. I used 4 lemons, 5 cups water and 1/2 cup of sugar and stirred. We added a few apple mint leaves from the garden, and enjoyed sipping in the sunshine.

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Now to clean up my creative mess…

Book store crush and all things vintage.

I love books. I’m compelled to look in second hand bookstores whenever I pass one. I love it when one jumps out and surprises you. The ones you don’t expect are delightful.

We found this gem in Ballarat, Victoria last week.

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Here, I was surrounded by titles from my childhood, enthralled. Books are one of my great loves in life, and now my sons share that love. I know I’m a lucky woman, when my 7 and 5 year old sons will stay in a book store, happily, for a long time. No tantrums or screams of boredom. Just pure enchantment.

Some bookstores cause you to feel like you’ve entered a new world. These are the ones that are hard to come by.

In Cygnet, Tasmania, we found our second “other world” in a week! Vintage toys for children to pass the time were a nice touch, not that my book worm bambinos need such distraction!

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Up the road, a cafe by the name of “The Red Velvet Lounge.” The coffee was great, the food delish, but the icing on the cake, the classy old school tunes that filled the air.
Matt indulged in an “Elvis Jaffle” which was filled with bacon, banana, peanut butter and jam.

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On our way home we stopped to explore a vintage warehouse. My goodness, I could settle in for an entire day uncovering all kinds of treasures! I tried on some 1960s dresses, or should I say frocks?
The boys were not as easily tamed in this environment, so guess where I will go alone later this week? Rummaging through history is my idea of fun!

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Microwave rave

We have lived for around three years microwave-less. In that time I couldn’t count the times we have heard something like this: “You don’t have a microwave?! I couldn’t live without mine!” “Why don’t you have a microwave?! You won’t last, you’ll get another.”
Three years on, we are still using the cubby hole that once housed an appliance for our wines and our fruit bowl.
Friends with babies come over and walk to the kitchen to zap the kids milk, look around and the penny drops. They realize we do not have what the are looking for. It oesnt get old to me, seeing the disbelief on their faces. You’d think we were living without toilet paper the way they react. I get a kick out of suggesting they could use the old fashioned way of boiling water to warm their baby’s bottle or food.

When I reflect back on our decision to go microwave-less, I can see that it was the beginning of our lifestyle revolution. Our microwave was making noises that would scare a bomb squad captain, so we went our separate ways. Most people would replace it without a thought. We asked ourselves if we really needed it. What does it do that makes our lives easier? The only thing I could come up with to buy a new one was that microwave popcorn rocks! Not enough to justify buying an appliance that I have my suspicions about.

For three years now, I’ve defrosted meat the old fashioned way. Slowly.
I’ve cooked food on the stove top or the wok and scrubbed things clean after.
We tend to cook correct portions as we don’t really do leftovers, with no quick reheat button and all.
I have to be more organized with meal planning, as I can’t just defrost at the push of a button, and that’s a good thing in my opinion!

Do I miss the microwave? In all honesty, the only times I’ve missed it have been when I’ve almost smoked us out of the house after burning popcorn in a pot. The topic was raised last night, and for a few moments I let myself think about the benefits. I confess, I was tempted. But today I’m realizing one of the things I love about not having one is that our kids have the aroma of food being cooked the old school way. They have to wait longer than a few moments to be fed. I love that phrases like “nuke it” or “zap it” are not a part of my family’s food vocabulary.

So for now, we will continue as we are, and as people have throughout the ages- microwave oven deficient. Slower than some perhaps, but we don’t want to live at breakneck speed anyway.

Thrifty and Nifty

They say a change is as good as a holiday. I’m not sure about you, but it’d either have to be an insanely cool change or a really crappy holiday to make that statement ring true for many people. We have had some changes around here in the past 24 hours, and I feel like I’m on a holiday. You probably think I need to get out more… I’ve decided that changing rooms is almost as good as a renovation!

My friend Betsy visited yesterday and we were inspired to create a few entirely different spaces in our small home. Matt was outside mowing the lawns and came inside to utter chaos! We did not spend a cent, but it looks like we spent up big. What a wonderful buzz to repurpose and reimagine spaces and pieces. I think I can safely say I’m Queen of Thrift these days:

thrift·y/ˈTHriftē/ Adjective: (of a person or their behavior) Using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully.

A rundown of the switcheroo:

We removed a black futon that was sharing our dining space  and put it in the kids play room, which is now referred to as the “kids only lounge”.

Here’s Bets and Isaac enjoying the new space.

We then took the playroom drawers, full of train tracks, dinosaurs and all kinds of imaginative and playful things, and transferred it to the dining area. Sounds crazy? Not when you embrace the fact that kids want to be where Mum and Dad are. It gets tiring trying to motivate children to pack their toys away. This way, they have an area where they can play to their hearts content and they can reduce the laps up and down the hall to pack up.

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Living in a small house means we have to make use of every nook! This area, now a quirky, creative space used to be almost bare and a source of frustration for me. Now it has a purpose! I can’t wait to make use of this new space. This desk used to be in our bedroom, becoming a dumping ground for stuff. Now we have more space in our bedroom, and a new nook in the open plan space. 20120611-213345.jpg

We painted a bookshelf that was a bit useless to the boys (not deep enough!). This sits nicely against the desk and is a neat way to disguise creative mess. 20120611-213452.jpg

I’m happy that my dear grandparents vintage radio now has a place to be admired, and to serve as a physical reminder to me of the many mornings I heard the crackle of radio news while I ate breakfast in their kitchen as a young girl.

Thrifty sure is nifty.

A-Z Gratitude: C is for Chairs

I am thankful for chairs.  Think of the times you have had to stand somewhere longing for a chair, with none to be found.  These are the times we realise how wonderful chairs are!  I bet you have been to a wedding or a funeral or a school event that meant you were standing for long enough to start to shift your weight from one leg to another.  You look at the old people and start to wish you were 80 years old and someone would offer you a seat.  Chairs are a wonderful invention.  They enable us to relax. We have many meaningful conversations while sitting on a chair.  We drink coffee in our favourite café, on a chair.They are everywhere, yet we take them for granted.  Not I!  I applaud the humble chair, and as I sit here on my favourite chair in our house, I am grateful.  Grateful for the four legs and the bright yellow cushion that supports my weight (that is none of your business).

I am so excited about chairs today because last night I completed my dining chair makeover.  Using the vintage fabrics I found at op shops – a curtain, a few skirts and dresses and a shirt (this chair has pockets!).

Here they are:

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Now go and make yourself a pot of tea, find a comfy chair and appreciate it. 🙂