Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recipe by Request - Savoury Mince

I cook by taste, sight and smell so recipes from me can be a little odd.

I'm cooking savoury mince at the moment, enough for 15 people on 2-stack pancakes. There will be tasty cheese on top and in between the pancakes.

The recipe for the savoury mince that is currently on the stove is:
(They all turn out pretty much the same but I couldn't tell you quantities for a smaller batch)

1.7kg minced beef - 'hamburger'... the fat left in is better for you!
1 red capsicum (bell pepper) - chopped by hand or food processor
1/2 celery, hand sliced into 3-4mm slices
3 onions - chopped by hand or food processor
1c red wine
750ml tomato cooking sauce
2tb coconut oil
2tb butter
380g mushrooms, hand sliced
1-2tb worcestershire sauce (definitely at least 2 if you don't have homemade tomato sauce on hand)
2 soup ladles of home made tomato sauce
4 cloves garlic, crushed

Melt fats, add onion and start cooking, after a minute or two add capsicum and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, then add celery and keep on cooking.
Add garlic, stir in and then add mince - breaking it up, stir it in and keep on cooking.
Once browned, add wine and cook a couple of minutes, add mushrooms and sauces (3)... stir in and keep on cooking. Add any water you need to rinse out the tomato cooking sauce jar.
Simmer slowly for an hour, stirring from time to time. This will reduce the liquid. When heating to serve, add in about 1 cup of tomato paste and season with celtic sea salt to taste. Serve once it's thick enough to sit up to an inch high all over the surface of a pancake!

(If you cook this I'd love to know how you go and what you think. I came up with it a few years ago, inspired by 'Tabriz' at the Pancake Parlour)

Cooking Tip: Get all ingredients out on the bench before starting the cooking, have them chopped and ready to go!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day

We've had cousins here for 24 hours and I needed an activity! So today I got the older kids to paint the Australian flag - they had a ball. First we used candle wax to cover the white parts and then a wash of blue finishing up with a bold red on top for the red stripes.

Quite unusual for him - Timothy decided to jump in for the photograph!
I cropped him almost out of the one below.... he was pant-less and looking away LOL

Top right: the example shown as we went
Bottom right: Melinda (7)
Bottom left: Nathaniel (6)
Top left: Toby (3)

Schedule Schmedule

Weekly Homemaking Schedule... works for me, doesn't work for me, works for me... okay, so it does work - I just rebel against it.
I remember a time in my life, 6 years ago, when I was following flylady properly and as a result, there was next to nothing that needed doing around the house. Bliss.

I'm not knee high in junk or anything (that was my teenage years!) but I am sick of not knowing where to begin, or seriously thinking nothing needs doing and then waking up the next morning and remembering that the ironing was desperate, the milk needed to be made up and I forgot to bake the bread - or whatever... just things that demonstrated that the evening off caused more problems than joy!!

For the last 6 months I've nutted out a schedule and I think this week I have hit on one that will work for us - when I make it work of course, that's the key :o) It's working because I started in the right place

Where to begin in making a schedule?
First I needed to identify what in life was important for us. Until I did that, no schedule was going to fit. By important, I don't mean which things need to be clean for my sanity. I mean the big rocks, life changing stuff. The big one for us was keeping the Sabbath. Once I knew that, a whole bunch of other things fell into place.

To keep our Sabbath (Sunday), it automatically means I need to prepare a meal the day before. So that went onto the weekly schedule . I want the house clean for the Sabbath, so that also went on the schedule for Saturday. I call it a weekly home blessing, a flylady term :o)

I also want cleaning to be as simple as possible. That means it needs to be done regularly so it's not a huge chore. And often enough that if it needs to be skipped on the odd occasion, that we're not going to be living in filth. And thus a 2nd weekly home blessing was introduced, with a slightly different cleaning list but much the same. Some tasks were split between the 2 lists, some beds on one WHB, other beds on the other WHB list. Because I need to clean on Saturday in preparation for the Sabbath, I've then put the 2nd WHB on Tuesday

Then I thought what I want the house to look like the rest of the time and I figured my floors need mopping an extra couple of times a week, so I added that in. And then the house was done. On paper of course. And as I type this, it is time for my Tuesday WHB lol

Other things we do that help us work out our schedule... Wednesday's: raw milk must be collected in the afternoon, so this is also a good time to go to the library or the supermarket. The market is also open on a Wednesday, so if I am good, we'll go to the market, then the library or park and then on to collect the milk and home again. I'm going to need a bit of practice on that one.

Here's what I have on paper
Daily: Load of washing: including fold and put away
Saturday: WHB 1 hour, cook Sunday's meal
Sunday: Evening - sweep, mop, bake bread and cake
Monday: Sweep, Ironing
Tuesday: WHB 1 hour, bake bread
Wednesday: Sweep & Mop in the evening
Thursday: Sweep
Friday: Bake bread, sweep & mop in the morning

Yes, there's a lot of sweeping and mopping around here, but we all live here, all the time and so it's needed. The children help with tidying and half of the tasks above

There's no huge secret to it other than this: You just have to do it! Tweak it some, then do it again and again, tweaking as needed!! You will enjoy your home and life so much more!

(I have a house cleaning theory that I'll share another day. It's for those that think they're too busy or whatever to keep a clean home, all the time)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What does your Sabbath look like?

As I seek to live more and more as God would have me and my family live, the more amazed (stunned, fascinated, shocked?) I am at how far Christianity today has come down the wrong pathways. To be a Christian is to be Christ-like or followers of Christ, yes?

Jesus said that if we love him we will obey his commands, his teachings.

Many Christians are of the (convenient?) belief that the New Testament frees us from keeping a Sabbath. Interesting. Does that mean that we are also freed from the commandments that follow 'Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy'; that it's now okay to lie, murder steal? or the ones the precede it? It's okay to have other gods and make images of them to worship?

I think not.

I don't believe the New Testament frees us from this command. To me it's best summed up in this sentence I found in an article on God's Law in New Testament Ethical Times
"If the stature of Christ is our moral standard, then the Old Testament law must be kept in Christian ethics"

"But Jesus healed on the Sabbath" I hear too often. Sure - but He didn't live against the Sabbath. He remembered the Sabbath and kept it holy. His only variation being when LOVE dictated a change of habit.

Oh, and the things we use to justify that what we're doing is okay on our Sabbath because it's 'different' from what we do the rest of the week so therefore it's not our usual work.
Legalistic to the nth degree, just on the other side of the fence!

So as I nut through all this for our family I'm quite interested in what other people do to 'Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy'.

So far for us it means
-limiting household chores. Tidy up what is being done but don't spend time working. E.g. make beds, clean the kitchen table - necessary basics
-cooking a meal the day before for Sunday lunch
-not shopping
-spending time with family; more reading, playing games and watching appropriate movies together
-house cleaned the day before (during Saturday); Our day is much more enjoyable when in a clean and tidy environment!

These things enable us to have a more God focused day and a day of rest from our usual rush and bustle of life. I believe God created us with a physical, emotional and spiritual need for a day of rest.

Would I break Sabbath? Sure, when love requires it. When someone's hour of need is on the Sabbath, the needs must still be met, as best we're able.

Oh, and our Sabbath is from Saturday evening till Sunday evening - yes, I know others have Saturday as their sabbath and that's fine - they could probably even prove it legalistically as being the exact correct day... I though, am fully convinced in my own mind that the day does not matter. Having a Sabbath does.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meal Planning

I like to meal plan to keep organised and wise with money but I do come and go from it. Money is tight at the moment, so I need to make sure it happens! For lunches we have whatever is on hand, and I plan dinners and am getting to planning breakfasts too. When money is tight I find it best to plan about 3 days at a time - it really keeps waste down and you know exactly what you have on hand.

B: Plum porridge
D: Meat pies and salad
B: Plum Porridge
D: Tuna casserole, fried sweet potato and salad
B: French toast
D: Savoury mince on pancakes

We've been blessed with some zucchini and cucumber from the local garden. Praying for some celery (garden or shop!) which will help with the Savoury mince and I need it to make some chicken soup in the coming days

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Baking Bread (again)

Think I need a bigger bowl for when I am doing 2 loaves!

Sooo yummy... just need to tweak the recipe a little to reduce it by about 20%

The bread I baked on Tuesday night was all gone by the end of Wednesday, which is why I have made double this time! it's going to be 32 degrees tomorrow - good weather for baking bread as it will rise well, but not so good for my 'comfort', to be baking in the heat :o)

Here's my 'Tweaked' bread recipe - will make 2 loaves

8-9 cups plain flour
1 cup unprocessed bran
3.5tb Dry Yeast
3.5tb Sugar
1.5tb Celtic Sea Salt
900ml hot water (48-54 degrees)
(If it's hot but I can hold my finger in it for 10 seconds then it's great - and easier than a thermometer)
Coconut oil - about 2tb

Mix together: bran, 7 cups flour, yeast, sugar & salt
Pour in hot water and beat 100 strokes or 3 minutes with a mixer (I don't have a mixer and I can never get to 100 strokes so I knead for longer)
Flour your surface, tip mix out and knead for 8 minutes (10 for me)
Rub coconut oil over entire surface and place dough in bowl with damp tea towel covering. Place this bowl on top of another bowl of hot water to steam (water should not touch dough bowl)
Allow to rise for 15 minutes
Punch down
Divide into 2 and place in loaf tins (grease if needed)
Sit loaf tins on hot water bowl, covered again, till slightly risen again - 5/10 minutes
Place tins on middle shelf of a cold oven
Place a tin of hot water on the lower shelf (I use a round cake tin half filled with boiling water)
Bake at 200 degrees for about 25-35 minutes - keep an eye on it and knock loaves for a hollow sound once they're looking done.

Great served hot with butter or keep over night and slices easily for toast and sandwiches.
A little heavier than shop bread - open sandwiches can work well for this reason.

Melinda (7) loves to just eat it with lots of butter - warm or cold! I love it with a glass of icy cold raw milk - YUMMY!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Snakes at the library!

Pete took the children to a summer holiday library session today with REPTILES!!

Melinda wasn't going to touch ANYTHING!!

Nathaniel is getting more and more game with such things

and Pete can't help but play the fool ;o)

Last Evening

Last evening I spent a lovely hour with Melinda, getting things done around the house. We baked bread, hung washing and put Timothy back to bed a few times. I aim to keep these times happening with her. There is and will be so much value in maintaining our times of conversation with each other.

I've been using a clothes rack to dry most of our washing since moving in here 9months ago
Not so great for sheets or outside in the wind!

Today Pete strung up a clothes line for me - Yippee!!
and, as you can see, I put it to good use right away. Melinda passed me clothes and we chatted as we worked. The photo is a little dark as the sun has already gone to bed :o)

Here is the bread we baked - It's called Cuban bread and I reckon it's a foolproof recipe. I don't have a mixer or a bread maker, it's all by hand here so foolproof is good.

Fresh and warm, ready to eat

and some Anzac biscuits I made during the afternoon

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chatting till 2am

Remember the days when you could do that all the time? I've loved it my whole life I think. Many memories as a child are of talking... dad telling my sister and I to stop talking and sleep, a friend's mum sitting outside the bedroom door at 1am when at about 7 years of age we were still talking at a 'sleep over', one night as a teenager not sleeping at all because my friends and I chatted all night, yes, ALL night, at a post youth group sleepover. Oh the fun. Even in my Dad's last 2 years of life we talked many hours a week - not late at night, but through the day as we were both on the road a lot for work and 'hands free' mobiles made it possible. That's what I miss most about Dad. Being able to discuss life, church, God and all of those combined.

Well, last night was a lovely night which asides from being very pleasant in itself, reminded me of good memories of days gone by.

Days I had assumed were gone.

Not so! God is good!!

The children and I stayed with one of my friends and her family - well, everyone is friends with each other which is great - and once everyone was settled for the night, we chatted. and chatted. and chatted. About good stuff. Challenging stuff. Real life Christian living stuff. I don't quite get how nutting things through and opening your eyes to things you need to work on can give a buzz of energy but it does.

I'm not sure what I talked of as a child and as a teenager but I'm sure it's greatly deepened and I love the challenge of these deeper conversations. I love really getting to know the other person, having someone to bounce thoughts off and be challenged by. I love the companionship as I continue to grow as Christian and seek to live a more godly life.


Earlier in the day we spent some hours with my old friends from school, including my oldest friend (the one whose mum stayed outside the door when we were talking). We've come and gone from each others life and it's such a joy to know her again now as an adult and to see what an enthusiastic Christian she is. Her faith is more than family traditions, it's real and living. LOVE this and am looking forward to when she and I can get together and talk the night away. I know she's as keen as I for a girls weekend, so we should get it organised!

Aah, just remembered that when Pete and I first started our relationship we talked till sun up the first night and then about 3am the next. Nuts huh.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

You Could Call Me Obsessed

Obsessed with the garden that is. I'm not really - we do have to go there twice weekly to water at this time of year and occasionally for planting if the watering day is too hot to do it in the same trip... okay, maybe just a little obsessed :o)

It is amazing to see everything growing! God's design is just incredible

Wednesday this week we went and planted our cucumber plants - and they're doing fine. Only 3 days have passed since then and it's the zucchini that I am AMAZED at.

This photo is from today, the zucchini are at the bottom of the picture (and yes, I do know they will grow much much bigger than this - I'm just impressed with how fast they're doing it!)
There's lots of activity starting near the centre of the plant, it looks like the flowers are on their way.

and in this picture below from Wednesday, the zucchini leaves don't reach out nearly as far and the leaves are considerably smaller

Master Timothy LOVES coming to the garden to help out and was demonstrating his strength today with a FULL 2L bottle of water, watering the plants.

Melinda loves watching the tomatoes grow - I can see already that once they start to turn red that she'll be literally jumping with joy. Nathaniel is not really impressed that we're growing vegetables hehe, flowers would be much nicer I am sure. He is most concerned though about the carrots. Now that the tops are showing, he is keen to make sure I don't accidentally pull out any carrots when weeding.
And this is true to their taste buds... Melinda loves to eat whole tomatoes as fruit and Nathaniel is willing to snack on a carrot

Friday, January 15, 2010

More Planning Required

We've been back at our bookwork for a week now, which has been great as it's showing me the 'holes' I need to work on! Well, one actually. I need to do more planning. On a daily basis.

See the picture above? Guess which day was more productive and smooth and the least stressful? Yes - the one with more planning done first!
The left hand column is the most important. That's where I estimate our time usage for the day and it keeps us on track but is loose enough that we're not rushed as we go about the day. Sooo much time is wasted when I don't do this. Some may be able to function productively without this sort of planning, but I am NOT one of them!

So from now, I commit to planning daily, preferably the night before. This will increase our productivity and decrease stress. Not to forget of course, that it's also good stewardship of the time my Lord has given me!

What about you? I'd love to hear how you manage time - are you one of the lucky ones who just manages to fulfill all responsibilities each day or do you need to list and/or schedule? What works best for you?

... If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well!'

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Our Typical Day Of Education

...Or what we're aiming for at any rate!

In 2-3 hours a day, 3-4 days a week (180 a year) we can achieve what the schools do by way of academic education. That leaves us with plenty of time for real life; living, learning, loving & laughing - it's these things that I believe truly educate a person and help them most through the journey of life. There are so many things I want my children to know and to value - I just wouldn't have the time if they were babysat in the school system for their best hours each day. Another time I'll post more on what we're doing about education from this direction!

As one of the growing number of home educators around the country and even world, I have noticed that we all like to check out what everyone else does with their day, what does the 'school' bit look like, how many 'extra' activities do you do and that sort of thing. Me included of course - I love to look, read & understand why each family does it their way.

And thus, I thought I should do some sharing as well!

(and yes, sometimes there is washing being folded on the table at the same time)

  • We rise by 7am, dress, breakfast & make beds
  • Morning jobs are done by 8.30-9am - mostly 8.30am
  • We make sure we're on track for dinner, fold washing, hang the next load of washing, take out rubbish, recycling etc and make sure as much as possible is in order.
  • We start first with PE. I find this helps the children to get focused. Whatever is in the PE guide we use gives us inspiration. Stretching is always a good start. Then followed by some running, bean bag tossing, french cricket or whatever. No more than 30minutes
  • Next it's Bible. The first thing we do once sitting at the table. Following the Foundations 1 schedule. We practice a memory verse, learn the books of the bible, read a chapter or more of the bible and do a colouring page. The children nominate different things they would like to pray for and we take it in turns to pray. Bible can take 15-30minutes
  • After Bible, Nathaniel does copy work while I work with Melinda on basic piano skills... about 15 minutes
  • Melinda then does 'Read, Write & Spell' and her 'Easy Learn' maths while I do the same with Nathaniel. Melinda occasionally needs things explained to her but is mostly okay with these things on her own. About 30minutes here, tops.
  • Then we're on to our 'extra' of the day - whatever it might be... Geography, Cooking, Art. This could take about an hour
  • End with a game - UNO, Countdown, Make 'n' Break, Who's Who, Whatever Next, Jigsaws... whatever
If I need to do some work-work I can give them 1/2 hour TV with playschool or a documentary DVD after PE & Bible or some quiet reading time, outside play time or whatever. Asides from that, if we're going to have a 'break' it will be before our 'extra' activity of the day.
Around the start of 'term 2' Melinda will start Spanish again, spending 10-15 minutes 3-4 days a week. Nathaniel will begin Spanish in 2011

This schedule means that we're done by 11-11.30 or an hour later if I've added in some 'work-work'. Life can happen and other needs must be focused on from time to time but with this schedule, we all know what we're doing - even when we might start our book work at midday on the odd occasion!

Some days we'll have friends over, go to the market and meet up with others. Melinda is involved in Girls Brigade weekly through term time and Nathaniel the same with Boys Brigade.

oh, and Timothy... the 20mo mischief maker? He's been trained by us to amuse himself as needed. Occasionally I'll change a nappy, get a drink, fill his water tub by the back door or whatever. He might climb up to the table to colour and draw with us, but he's no trouble. We'll keep it that way, and ease him in to his own bookwork in another couple of years :o)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Painting

The children just LOVE to paint... maybe because it really is an 'event' when it happens. Often when they ask, there's just not enough time to fit it in along with the packing up!

This first one is by Nathaniel - interesting picture, reminds me of the aerial views of the amazon which we're about to look at as part of our South America study in January

Also by Nathaniel - I'm keen to ask him about this one. Must make a mental note to do so.
I can't decide if it's one creature that is both green and yellow, or two creatures hugging?

There next two are both by Melinda - she loves to paint things she knows

Again - a painting of what she knows - her roads usually are going to somewhere specific though. Mental note: Ask her where!

Next time we get the paints out I'm going to mix colours... orange, purple, brown etc and maybe the time after that, pastels?

Edited to add that Nj's picture is of a robot going through a hole in a fence (gate) and Melinda's road is going to McDonalds *chuckle*

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Our Vegie Patch - 8 days on

3 of our baby cherry tomatoes,
one of the benefits of seedlings when planting late.
I love this picture

A thin layer of mulch around the seedlings, we now have zucchini in and the bare earth is where our carrot seeds are sown. We're having very hot weather this week so on our watering days we're giving it a really good soaking as you can see. Once this hot spell is over, well add cucumbers to the empty mulched areas

These are 2 huge organic zucchini we were able to take, free of charge from the 'excess produce' table.
I've turned the light green one into soup and the dark green one is yet to be cooked with - quite possibly it is destined to be zucchini slice. I didn't weigh the soup one before using it but the dark green one weighs 1.2kg!!

... and if you're wondering how to make zucchini soup - easy!
In a pot chop zucchini into large chunks, add a large onion (quartered), a couple of peeled potatoes and home cooked chicken stock to cover. Simmer till cooked - I just did mine overnight in the slow cooker - and then puree and salt (celtic sea salt) to taste... See - easy!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Holiday at Grandma's House

Pete and the children have just returned from one of the annual 3 day visits with Grandma down at Inverloch. No photo's taken sorry - the camera went with them but was forgotten which is most unlike Pete!

From everything I've heard, they had an absolute ball and Grandmas had fun spoiling them - Grandmas are good at that :o)

A couple of ice creams, a trip to the MOVIES!!, time at the beach, playing at the park, visit to the wildlife centre, souvenirs bought for them and much much more.

Melinda's most exciting news was seeing a python that had previously swallowed a golf ball and Nathaniel loved the treats and stopping at a lookout on the way home. Pete had a chance to watch some cricket and hang out with the kids without the usual responsibilities one has at home. As nice as it was to have 'thinking space' with them gone, it is lovely to have them home again.
The best of both worlds.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Our Vegie Patch at the Community Garden

Weeding first

Nathaniel divided one half into 6 mini plots which will determine where different things get planted. Today we put in cherry tomatoes and beetroot. More beetroot will be added tomorrow and in a couple of weeks well add cucumber seedlings which we're caring for at home while they're tiny.
Need to decide on a couple of other things to grow here too as we have more room that we first thought, which is nice!

Other peoples' vegie gardens in the background

This will be a whole other home ed subject! Covering maths, science, life skills and more :o)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Home Ed 2010

(You may notice that I avoid calling it Home School... and that's because we don't do school!! We educate academically yes, but that's as close to school as we get and we do it in about 25% of the time!)

So, 2010 has arrived and although we've home educated since I was pregnant with Melinda, our first, 2010 is our second year of pursuing a more structured way of home education.

We'll use the same maths & language arts materials as last year - they worked well for us.
We're adding in some more subjects and materials as noted below.

English/Language Arts:
Melinda (7.5) is going on with Learn to Read, Write & Spell. She's pretty good with these things in real life so I'll say this has worked for us. She's quite advanced, so as she continues with these books to help avoid gaps that could occur by skipping ahead, she will also work in 'Language Lessons for the Elementary Child', sold through Credo Trust
Nathaniel is starting this series and has just become keen about letters etc

Easy Learn Maths (This and Learn to Read Write and Spell, come from

We're starting 'Foundations 1' by Anne Elliott

Homeschooling PE (for the P.E. challenged mom). Also by Anne Elliott

Life Skills:
Uncommon Courtesy for Kids by Gregg & Joshua Harris (I believe out of print, try ebay/amazon)
Lessons in Responsibilities for Boys, Vol 1

Geography: (which will also touch on history and a few other things)
Galloping the Globe

Art & Craft / Home making etc
We will do small units on these, created from various materials that suit our needs and the vision for our family

Down the track we'll add in science - we're looking at Apologia... may switch maths programs to MathUSee and keep our eyes open, enjoying seeing what other people use as we consider what will work best for our children (yes, another benefit of home education being that academics along with everything else, can be tailored to a child's individual bent, thus limiting the exasperation of children!)