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!

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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.

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. 🙂

Happy birthday to me

I can no longer deny I am in my mid-thirties, after turning 35 yesterday.  What a joyous occasion it was when I realised at the end of the day that my sons are finally at an age where they can appreciate that it is not about THEM on MY birthday! Hip hip hooray! They didn’t fight me to open my gifts, and they didn’t scream with horror and disappointment when my gift was gorgeous bangles rather than Lego.

The cards the lads made were fun, and deserve a mention here.  Asher (4) did a drawing of mummy in a bra on the front of the card, or in his words, “boo-boo holders”.  Bear in mind, this is the child who cut out Jennifer Aniston’s legs for a kinder collage project.

Sitting in my favourite café, Ginger Brown, for 3 hours was a great way to spend the morning of my 35th.  First, brunch with my lads, but I kicked them out before a few girlfriends arrived for some coffee and cake. No one can do three hours in a café with kids, especially someone coming to terms with the downhill slide to 40.

This was my birthday sunset view from the front of our house – what a gift!

After the lads went to bed, I put  a Stan Getz cd on, lit some candles, popped the birthday champagne and ate more easter chocolate.  Happy, relaxed, low-key, simple birthday to me.

Frugal furniture facelift

We foolishly purchased an ivory dining setting before we had children, having no idea how ridiculously messy tiny people could be.  Now we know.  I mean, why use a napkin when you can just wipe your hands all over  the seat?

I have wanted to buy a new setting for a long while now, but decided to put it off until the kids are at an age where they won’t utterly destroy it. I am starting to realise that age never comes for boys.

I pulled a chair apart a few days ago and figured it couldn’t be too hard to reinvent the look. I have never attempted upholstery in my life, in fact I don’t know if I have even said the word out aloud until this week. A staple gun, a screwdriver, some scissors and wine and I’d be set. I went to the op shop to look for vintage dresses or drapes to give the chairs a new look without spending big bucks on new fabric.

This is what I found at the Op Shop.

From this

To this…

Three down, three to go!  Not perfect, but I had loads of fun – no sewing, knitting, crocheting or any of that hard stuff required!!!  Thanks to Matt for the muscles when needed xx