Saturday, 28 July 2012

Where Has This Week Gone??

So here we are, on Saturday! Wow this week has disappeared! All four of us are chilling out and having a bit of a PJ morning today and we are all watching the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. 
It's been a bit of a crazy week here in The House of W!
The boys have had the usual school routines going on, and I have been in and out helping in class and PMP fitness program for the Juniors.  

I found myself a little Greenhouse that was on special which I got with some of my pocket money savings so I have somewhere to put all my seedlings this year. Last year I germinated them all in the hot water cupboard and as they sprouted I had them scattered around all the sunny places in the house, so I thought when I saw this advertised that it was just perfect :) and on special at $35 it was a great price. I just need to get MrW to put it together for me now and I can start planting out some of my seeds that can be started at this time of year.



I made this apron for my close friend who turned 30 last week, she loves horses and used to be right into competitive riding before her girls came along, so when I went looking in the local fabric shop for some inspiration I found this and thought it was perfect :)




I finished off my Marmalade although I over set it this time, so to my jar in the fridge I added some extra boiling water and that seemed to make it a bit runnier, it will be interesting to see if it stays runnier once it has been back in the fridge for a few days.  I also made some Orange Juice Concentrate (or Cordial) with some left over oranges I had.  It is really yummy and is a nice way for kids to have a little juice that is free of additives/colourings and preservatives. I'll post the recipe for this juice concentrate soon, it's so easy to make and so yummy!



Earlier in the week we had some workmen out the front of the our property installing a big street light and they needed to cut our power off for a few hours.  Unfortunately it was over lunch time and I had some pumpkin soup in the fridge for MrW and I (and we had little Noah at home for the day) to have.  So without any power we got the fire going really hot and heated the soup and bread up on the fire. It was so nice to do this and reminded me of my childhood when we had a coal range in our farm house and we used to do the majority of our cooking on the coal range.



Unfortunately a downer was put on the week when on Thursday I tripped over at school in the morning when dropping the boys off.  I managed to trip on an exposed edging board and went down hard on my right hand and shoulder.  I cut my right hand up on the concrete and sprained my wrist and hurt my shoulder.  I'm starting to feel a lot better today, and have most of my movement back although it's still really painful. The last two days have been quite difficult as it was my right hand I injured so I have been trying to do things left handed and I've been a bit gumby lol, so it's a relief to know I'm on the mend.  I had quite a lot of plans for the last part of the week but have put them on hold till next week.  

That's the benefit of slow living isn't it really? I work to a schedule I set and I can put my plans on hold when I need to and there is no pressure (apart from my own lol) to get them done within a certain time frame. All those jobs will still be there next week waiting patiently for me :)  

I'm looking forward to next week and coming right from this injury. I had started my 'spring' cleaning at the start of the week before my accident to get a bit of a head start on it. When the spring comes I want to be able to dedicate my time to my vege and flower gardens and tidying up outside from the winter. I don't want to also have the stress of having to clean the house out as well.  Although it's winter and I can't air out bedding etc, I am dusting, cleaning down all the walls, moving and vacuuming under furniture, sorting through cupboards and draws and cleaning all the windows and frames. Call me strange, but I find it quite satisfying when I spring clean all the rooms like this :)

Well I shall probably make a move to get on with the rest of the day, we're waiting for our New Zealand team to come out in the Olympic Ceremony and then it'll be onto the days activities.  We have a quiet weekend planned at home and we're looking forward to it. With MrW having been away so much recently it's nice to slow down and reconnect with our home :)

What does your weekend hold in store?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Chocolate Fudge Slice - Monday : Baking Day

Welcome to my ''Monday: Baking Day'' Feature. Every Monday is baking day in my kitchen following a phrase over here in NZ from the old Farmbake Cookies adverts. So I thought it would be a great way to share some of my yummy baking recipes, some being my old faithful recipes and some new, but I hope they are recipes that may inspire you to create Monday: Baking Day in your kitchen :). I love to swap recipes so if you have something scrummy to share then please feel free to create the recipe post on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your post for us all to share. Just remember though if you have a recipe to share from another blog, that's great, but please do the right thing and provide a link back to the original recipe, this is also a great way to share our blogs :). HAPPY BAKING ..... and enjoy!

This is an absolute favourite in our house and often I whip it up (as it is a very quick slice to make), if we are having one of those 'terrible' chocolate cravings that we sometimes have :)  I've had this recipe for years and years and I'm not sure where it originated from however I was given it by a friends Mum when I was in highschool.

Chocolate Fudge Slice

1 pkt Vanilla or Round Wines - crushed
150 grams (6oz) Butter
6 good Dessert Spoons White Sugar
2 heaped Dessert Spoons Cocoa
2 Eggs - beaten
2 tsp Vanilla Essence

Crush the Biscuits either in the Food Processor or in a bag and smash it with a rolling pin. I process mine until the biscuit crumbs are quite fine with only a few small lumps but it's up to what you prefer.  If you like a bit of crunch leave the biscuits crumbs a bit coarser.
In a pot over a low heat melt the Butter.   Add to this the Sugar and Cocoa.  Give a good stir around.  
In a bowl beat the eggs with a fork and then add to the pot.  Making sure you keep stirring, bring it up to boiling point but without actually letting it boil.  If it boils you will cook the egg and have pieces of cooked egg white in the mix.  Stir for a few mins and then take it off the heat.  
Add the Vanilla Essence and the Biscuit Crumbs and mix it all through thoroughly.
Place it into a slice tin lined with baking paper (you'll need to push the mix around to get it to fill the tin and smooth off the top), refrigerate to chill. You can put it into the freezer for 10-15mins if you need it quickly.

When cold ice with chocolate icing. Cut into desired pieces and indulge :) Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

My Chocolate Icing

I don't actually measure out my icing anymore, I just tend to wing it :) But here are some approximate measurements

50grams Butter
2 cups Icing Sugar (you may need more)
1 - 2 Tablespoons Cocoa (to taste)
A good Slosh or two of Vanilla Essence
Boiling Water to mix

Melt the butter and sift in the Icing Sugar and Cocoa.  Add the Vanilla Essence and give it a little mix with a fork. Add a tiny bit of boiling water and stir, keep adding little quantities of boiling water and mixing after each until you reach the desired consistency, I like mine to be quite thick but spreadable.
If you need to, add more icing sugar and/or cocoa to taste or until the mix is at the consistency you prefer.
Spread over the slice and if you choose to decorate it try sprinkles/coconut or grated chocolate but this is totally optional :)

Tip - when icing cakes/slices have a glass/cup of boiling water nearby so as the icing starts to set and is getting a little harder to spread dip your knife into the water and this will heat it up enough to melt the icing a little you are working with so it spreads easily.  Its also a great way to smooth out the appearance of icing :)














ENJOY :)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Just Pottering


Well this week in The House of W, we have just been pottering through each day.  MrW went away for most of the week to Singapore so I had my wonderful MIL come down to lend a hand with the boys and to keep us company :)  We all love it when Grandma comes to stay, the boys are a lot calmer and settled, there is someone to help out with the dinner/bedtimes and getting off to school in the mornings, and I really enjoy having her here to natter away to as we pass the time during the day doing various little tasks.  We also at some point always end up in the garden together, this in particular was a great benefit this visit! Whilst I have been unwell recently the drive to get out in the garden has well and truly left me.  I had all these plans to get out into the vege garden and tear it apart...I just never quite made it past the planning stage :)
So as I was in town doing a haircut one morning Ma took the car so she could go and have a tour around.  When she picked me up, the announcement of her having been to Mitre 10 Mega and bought some vege seedlings for me was just GOLD.  This I knew would be the catalyst for my gardening bug to return :)  
SO sure enough the next day Ma announced when we'd had our cuppa after school drop off that she was going to get out into the vege garden to get it ready for planting the seedlings.  That of course was enough to get me off my bum and out into the patch.  My goodness what a sight! ***hangs head in total shame*** 


Somewhere in this overgrown, weed filled mess are some Carrot seedlings, Silverbeet, Strawberries and Raspberry Canes.......oh look here they are....................................




Ahh now that's much better! A good mornings work by the two of us had it all back into shape :) Now when it stops raining in the next week or so I have some Leeks, Broccoli, Lettuce and Beetroot to plant. I have also planted a new baby Flat Leafed Parsley plant that I like to have sitting on my deck in a big pot ready for adding to my cooking. All I need to do now is throw down some blood and bone add a bag or two of compost to where the Spud patch will be, plan out where I'm planting everything and I'll be ready for germinating and planting seeds come spring time.  The soil is looking fantastic though, and where I planted the spuds last year it was all stony and not very nice, but now its all beautiful soil with lots of fat long worms living in it!


When I pulled out the very dead Bean plants from last season we couldn't get over the size of the root system! There were some dried pods left behind, so I'm going to dry out the bean seeds some more and use them for this years crop.

This is the next bed that needs some desperate TLC.  In amongst here are some herbs, so I am going to pull out all the weeds, build the soil level back up with some compost and potting mix and it'll be ready for some yummy herbs to be planted.

Throughout the week it's been business as normal here, lots of yummy breads/buns, dinners and baking, homework and marveling at the progress that both boys are making with their learning.  I have finished knitting MrW's winter hat, I shall post a photo soon of all our hats I have knitted for this winter, as I must say I quite happy with the way they all turned out :)  I made some Strawberry Jam and today I have had the beginnings of Marmalade on the stove, and on Monday it was the big Monthly shopping day which always manages to take up the best part of the day.



On Friday it was a big celebration day at school for 100 days of school for the 2012 school year.  The children all make up a project consisting of 100 something which they show in the hall and all of us parents send along some yummy food and they have a big shared lunch.  So the boys went off with a Mama baking special of Banana and Coconut loaf (which Flynn reported was all gone by the time it was his class's turn to be served lunch!) and their 100days project.  The boys decided to make something out of lego each. Noah made a 'Starwars Rocket with Luke Skywalker' and Flynn made a 'Dragon' and they both did a fantastic job on building them all on their own. Although Flynn had a failure on the way to school in terms of his breaking so it was an emergency rebuild in the hall for his one!  But by the end of the day they were two very happy boys after a wonderful day at school :)


To top  off the week at school, Noah received his certificate in assembly for starting school.  He was such a big boy walking up onto stage and receiving it...I was one proud Mama!


So a busy week as usual for us, MrW flew back in yesterday and it's great to have him home! Unfortunately Ma took ill with a dreadful migraine but was feeling well enough today to travel back home fortunately.  
We've all just had a super quiet day today just recharging our batteries, a lovely big bowlful of fresh Pumpkin soup and fresh bread for lunch just topped off our nice relaxing day :)  How has your week been?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Nut Brownie Cookies - Monday : Baking Day

Welcome to my ''Monday: Baking Day'' Feature. Every Monday is baking day in my kitchen following a phrase over here in NZ from the old Farmbake Cookies adverts. So I thought it would be a great way to share some of my yummy baking recipes, some being my old faithful recipes and some new, but I hope they are recipes that may inspire you to create Monday: Baking Day in your kitchen :). I love to swap recipes so if you have something scrummy to share then please feel free to create the recipe post on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your post for us all to share. Just remember though if you have a recipe to share from another blog, that's great, but please do the right thing and provide a link back to the original recipe, this is also a great way to share our blogs :). HAPPY BAKING ..... and enjoy!



Nut Brownie Cookies

125gms Butter - softened
1 cup White Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 1/2 cups Self-Raising Flour (or 1 1/2 cups Flour and 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder)
2 tbsp Cocoa
Pinch Salt
1/2 cup Chopped Nuts (preferably roasted)
1 tbsp Hot/Boiling Water

Cream Butter and Sugar until pale and fluffy.
Add Egg and beat in well, then add Vanilla Essence.
Sift Flour and Cocoa into the Butter mix, add Salt and fold through.
To this mix in the Nuts and Hot/Boiling Water and mix in well.  
The mix will be quite moist and sticky, roll small spoonfuls into balls and place on a Baking Paper lined tray and slightly flatten with a fork (I lightly hold the sides so when I remove the fork from the ball it doesn't stick to it).
Allow room for these to spread then bake in an oven preheated to 160degC.
Bake for 10mins for a soft cookie, or 12mins or so for one with a slight crunch :)
Makes approx 33 cookies.









 Perfect to enjoy with a hot cuppa!




Sunday, 15 July 2012

{this moment}

. . . . . . . .
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . .

Pancakes

Pancakes on Sunday Morning.......a little tune sung in our house by two little boys (and the big kids to) when every once in a while we decide to make a Sunday special treat pancake breakfast :)

I'm not sure where I got this recipe from, but I have had it in my recipe book for a few years.  It's a never fail, totally scrummy pancake recipe...I think it may have come off the back of a packet of something.  All I know is it took a lot of trial and error over the years to find a pancake recipe I like to work with and like the taste of and this one ticks all the boxes for me :) There is no need to make pancakes/pikelets out of a bottle, you know the ones...just add milk/water and mix? those are full of ingredients/additives/preservatives we don't need to be putting into our bodies and they don't taste anywhere as nice as ones made from scratch with fresh ingredients. I hope you find these just as nice as we do :)

PANCAKES

1 cup Self-Raising Flour
1 Tbsp Caster Sugar
1 Egg - Beaten
200ml Milk (can be made with milk powder milk)
1 tbsp Butter - Melted
Extra butter for greasing the pan

Combine Flour and Sugar in a bowl.
In another bowl melt the Butter in the microwave, add the Milk and Egg.  Mix with a whisk.
Make a well in the middle of the flour mix, slowly pour in the Milk mix and gently whisk it as you are pouring.  Make sure it is mixed well together.  You may need to add a little extra milk until the batter is thick but pourable.  (I drop it off a spoon and if it falls and holds a pattern in the mix for a few seconds I know its the right consistency - you don't want it to runny or you'll end up with more of a crepe, to thick and it won't spread enough in the pan).

Whilst mixing the batter gently heat a frying pan or skillet on a low heat with a little butter to very lightly cover the bottom of the pan.  It is important not to let it get to hot or the butter will burn.
When you can see little bubbles in the butter its ready, so using a serving spoon pour in some mix, you want about 1/4 cup of mix in the pan.  Pick the pan up and gently tip it from side to side to get the batter to spread out into a larger circle. Re-butter the pan with a small knob of butter as needed.  
If the butter starts looking burnt, use a paper towel to wipe out the excess and start over with new butter.
When the first side starts to show bubbles, it is cooked on the other side and ready to turn.  With a fish slice gently lift the pancake and flip it over.

To keep your pancakes warm while you are cooking them all, heat a plate in the microwave for roughly 30 seconds to warm it up, and after each one is cooked slide it onto the plate and keep them covered with a tea towel.  The heat from the plate and the pile of pancakes keep them nice and warm until serving.

This mix we found serves 2 adults and 2 small children.  For larger servings I  make 1 1/2 times the mix, but use two eggs instead of 1.  It depends how large you like your pancakes and how many people are indulging, double or triple the mix if needed :)

My Tips - I have a particular element on the stove I like to use, however it is one that seems to be a lot hotter even on low than the rest.  To deal with this, I keep it on 1 the whole time, and add a tiny knob of butter to the pan before each pancake.  After every second pancake I wipe out the excess butter with a paper towel and add new butter.  If I don't do this the butter burns and the pancakes come out dark brown instead of a yummy golden brown.








We like to serve our pancakes with a little whipped cream, some homemade Maple Syrup (find the recipe here), some sliced banana and if we have some in the freezer some frozen berries defrosted in the microwave....nothing quite like berry juice mixed with the cream!  Another way to serve them without the real indulgence of cream and syrup, is with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sugar.

ENJOY!




Saturday, 14 July 2012

Simple Antibacterial Spray Cleaner (Spray&Wipe Cleaner)

It's been a while a since a shared one of my simple cleaners with you all, so I thought it was about time I did so :)



Ruth's Simple Antibacterial Spray Cleaner

Using a 1 litre Spray Bottle, 1/4 fill it with White Vinegar, give a good squirt of Dishwashing Liquid (or homemade Liquid Soap) and add 20 drops of Tea Tree Oil.  
Using Warm Water top up the remainder of the bottle.  Towards the top make sure you slow the flow of the water as it will bubble over if it goes in to fast.  
Each time you use it just give it a good shake, spray and wipe with a wet cloth :)

Now wasn't that easy and cheap to make? :)

We used to spend so much unnecessary money on buying all those antibacterial spray cleaners for our kitchen counter tops, toilet, bathroom and other general cleaning areas.  I used to think I needed them.......do you feel this way?

I have been using this mix for about 1 1/2 years now and it has never failed me.  It is simple to mix, very frugal compared to the store bought counterparts, the soap content helps with lifting the grime and with using White Vinegar and Tea Tree Oil it is also antibacterial so will kill off any nasty bacteria that we want to avoid floating around our homes (although in saying this, I firmly believe we don't want to be killing off ALL the bugs in our house, a few little bugs aren't going to hurt us and can be beneficial, I just want to ensure my surfaces are clean more than anything).

I have a spray bottle in my kitchen for cleaning our kitchen benches and our tables, and a spray bottle in the laundry for cleaning up the bathroom, laundry and toilet.  I particularly have this one hanging out in easy reach, so if the boys happen to have any little accidents in the toilet they can then get the spray themselves and using some toilet paper they can clean it up.  I know when they are using this spray that it is totally safe for them to use. I also have another spray bottle with this mix and a tablespoon of Olive Oil mixed in so I can clean the wooden walls of our house easily and give them a nice shine :)

Happy Cleaning :) xx

Friday, 13 July 2012

A Little Holiday Fun

We've just come back from a lovely few days away at Grandma's :) Grandma and Grandad live by the beach in Whangarei Heads and its always lovely and relaxing to get away up North. We had a couple of days up there with two of the boys' cousins and my sister-in-law and it was really cool for the kids to play and all of us to hang out.  On the way home we picked up the other two cousins from Auckland and they came down to ours and had a sleepover.  So a week full of family fun for our school holidays.  Totally makes up for last week all being crook, and was a nice break away while MrW spent most of the week in Melbourne.  I thought I would share a few of our holiday snaps with you (hmmm there are quite a few lol)

This is the view from the walk I took around the 4km block - lovely isn't it :)
We headed out for a few hours to the beach

Flynn decided like his big cousin to dig a really deep hole to reach the water
Noah found some dried seeweed
 I finished both the boys hats that they are wearing just in time for the trip away
The boys enjoyed running to the top of the sand dunes

A dribble castle my nephew made
they reached the water :)


 The view from the top of the car park

 








The local school have a really neat reusing system in place....growing lettuce in an old bbq and flowers in old gumboots.



                             Playtime at the school :)                       

  mmmmm Fluffy and brownie :) Noah was in heaven when Grandma took us all out for morning tea at the local cafe

Making Pizzas with Grandma for lunch


Beyblading in the back seat on the way home to fill in time :)
 
On the way home as it's a 3-4hour drive, we nearly always stop in Warkworth to have a break, the boys love playing at the park they have there by the water.  It was bliss just sitting there eating our lunch together.  A nice way to end our holiday :)


Our two big boys :) We go back to school next week, so it's lovely to have some fun holiday memories and a chance to recharge the batteries :)

Thanks for having us Grandma and Grandad xx
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