Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A New Guitar and Spray and Wipe

School goes back on Monday! With this comes a new start and a new year of discoveries for our growing boys (not allowed to say babies anymore according to Master8). 

Both of the boys have been asking for a while to learn Guitar but it has always been one of those 'next year maybe' things.  Well we are at the stage now where 'next year maybe' won't cut it anymore...they are simply at the ages where it is good to get these things rolling for them, so this year it is.

Master7 with his new guitar that he loves. With help from our amazing Grandma to purchase two guitars, the boys wish of learning guitar is happening this year.

So we have had to shuffle things around to make this work in the budget, along with enrolling them back into swimming lessons which are not cheap either, but we feel are essential for children to learn to become confident competent swimmers, especially here in NZ where swimming at the beaches in summer is a favourite past time. We took a break last year from swimming lessons as Master8 was a bit over them and Master7 wasn't allowed to swim because of his grommets. However with Master7 able to tolerate swimming again and their first triathlon coming up and having watched them recently in the pool, it's definitely time to get the lessons going again.

So guitar lessons and swimming lessons.....Oh my! It really is an expensive world these days that we all live in, and I must confess two children is more than enough for us to pay for with schooling and extra curricular activities - we can make that work on one salary - just!

So after much discussion and thoughts running through my head, MrW and I are tightening things up again and we know we can make this work.

I have had so many thoughts running through my head recently....the grocery bill is really getting to me, we still don't buy anything much luxury wise, however with two growing boys and now us two athletes the variety of foods we buy now compared to what we did when I first started blogging back in 2011 is a little different, and so is the amount we spend each week.  I do make an effort to buy the less processed spelt flour and coconut sugar however I feel I may just have to curb this and save them for particular recipes (like pastry and pizza dough! Spelt flour makes amazing pastry and pizza's!The coconut sugar...well this might just have to get marked off as a luxury and only if we can really afford it - we don't generally eat much in the way of sugar these days except what goes into my baking and I moderate this so this one won't matter as much). I have to find ways of being more frugal with my shopping again, this way I can provide a little extra cash to replace what we are now earmarking for the lessons so we can have an ice cream or a coffee out every now and then...or buy bark to replenish the old bare looking barked areas in the garden! as Miranda would say - Such Fun! :)

Soooo let the fun begin! First step, is to re-introduce those cleaners I have slowly replaced after the last little while with commercial ones (naughty me I know!).

First up is revisiting an old favourite of mine! SPRAY AND WIPE :)



So easy, so quick to make and so cost effective why wouldn't you?!

All you need is an old spray bottle, white vinegar, tea tree oil, a little dishwash liquid and good old H2O. Coupled with washable reusable cleaning cloths (I use chux cloths which a <$4 packet has lasted me for a couple of years!) this will save you a lot on a commercial chemical filled spray cleaner and paper towels if you use them.

1/4 fill your spray bottle with White Vinegar and add 20 drops of Tea Tree Oil. Top up the bottle with water and add a good squirt of dishwash liquid.  Put the trigger back into the bottle and give the bottle a good shake.  Each time you want to use the spray and wipe just give it a little shake and you are good to go :)

The white vinegar and tea tree oil work to kill the germs and the dishwash liquid gives a little oomph for cleaning up those messes or marks. Perfect for using in the bathroom, toilet and laundry cleaning as well.


HAPPY FRUGAL CLEANING!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Sweetcorn Fritters......

Mmmmmm who loves a good sweetcorn fritter? I know I sure do and so do the rest of our household :)

Trouble is sometimes finding the perfect recipe can be a challenge! I've made a few different ones over the years with some coming out gluggy, some just don't seem to cook properly and others are just plain bland.

I was scratching my head the other day wondering what I could make the boys and I for lunch as I didn't just feel like yet another omelet or sammy, then looking through the stockpile cupboard I found a tin of sweetcorn kernels and the decision was made! This recipe has been tweaked and tested to be a no fail, yummy every time and oh so easy to make that is definitely worth giving a go if are a fan of a good sweetcorn fritter like me.

I like to serve mine with a fresh salsa that my chef friend shared with me how to make years ago (recipe below), some sour cream and a dollop of sweet chilli sauce yum!



Sweetcorn Fritters 

3/4 cup Flour (Plain or Spelt)
1 tsp Baking Powder
A really good pinch or two of Salt
A small pinch or grind of Black Pepper
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Milk (you may need to add a little more)
1 can Sweetcorn Kernels (in brine or spring water)
1 Courgette grated
 Some finely chopped Parsley or Chives (omit if none on hand)
Butter or Spray Oil for greasing the pan

Into a bowl sift the flour and baking powder together, add the salt and black pepper.  In another bowl lightly beat the eggs and milk (see my Tip* below).

Set aside the eggs, into the flour add the grated courgette, parsley/chives and the rinsed sweetcorn.  Mix this through the flour so all the ingredients have a good coating of flour on them. 

Make a well in the middle and pour in the eggs and milk.  Using a spatula mix everything together (use a folding motion).

At this point, I sprinkle or grind over another LITTLE bit of salt and black pepper.....this really does bring out the flavour.

The mix should be wet, but not really runny and it shouldn't be to dry either, you want just a little slop to the texture.  If it's to runny, using a small spoonful at a time sift in some more flour, if it's to dry and thick add in a little splash of milk mixing each time until the right consistency is achieved.

During the mixing process put your pan on the heat (I prefer my electric frypan as the heat is consistent and I can get four cooking at one time, but any frypan will do) spray over some oil or brush on some butter before you add each new batch of fritters. You want your pan up to a medium temp, and once you start cooking you can adjust it from there depending on how fast your fritters cook. If the pan is to hot you'll brown the outside before the inside cooks, and to lower a heat means your fritters will cook through but won't brown on the outside...it's a case of finding the balance in heat :)

Dollop in some fritter mix, and gently smooth the top so you have a nice even fritter - not to thin or they'll have holes and not to thick or they'll take forever to cook.  I use one of my plastic serving spoons for this, which tends to give me the right about of fritter mix at one time. When you can see the mix is cooking through it'll no longer be a wet mixture, gently using a fish slice flip your fritter....you should have a nice golden crust on the outside now. Cook until you achieve the same nice golden crust on both sides :)



Serve with your choice of accompaniments - bacon, sour cream, guacamole and a side salad will turn this into a meal, or like I mentioned earlier I like to serve mine with a fresh salsa, sour cream and some sweet chilli.  You might like just a little sauce on the side.

My mix made 10 good sized fritters.


Tip*  Whenever a recipe calls for lightly beating eggs and milk together, I put my into a drink shaker and shake together...works a treat!



FRESH TOMATO SALSA 

Make this first if using....

De-seed and finely dice a tomato, finely dice a red onion and a one to two inch piece of cucumber.  If you like avocado you can finely dice half and add this as well.  Mix ingredients all together in a little bowl, drizzle over a little olive oil, add a tiny squirt of fresh lemon juice if you have it on hand, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a sprinkle of raw sugar.  Lastly sprinkle over a just a little dried sweet basil and oregano...or if you have fresh finely chop these and add them...not to much though or you will over power the other flavours.

Mix this all together, taste, balance out the flavours if needed by adding a little extra salt, sugar or lemon juice otherwise just let it sit until you have finished cooking the fritters as the flavour will develop. Re-taste, adjust if necessary and serve on the side of the fritters :)





ENJOY!


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Taking Time To Smell the Roses....

I've had an assignment for my organisation and management paper that I have been working on for the last wee while, I finished it at midnight on Tuesday right on the dot of when it was due.....I don't like running it that close to the wire. I lose my sense of control, but with 26 pages and 5,895 words it took oh such a long time to compile and edit.

I feel like now it's time....definitely time

Time to let go of the busyness and just slow down, reconnect and take some time to smell some roses....

This is my climber Compassion which is in full bloom at the moment along the front fenceline
Yesterday I woke up so tired, and today a little less so but it's still there in my bones.  My studies will settle back into the normal work level now which is about 12hours a week until my exam late Feb, so I feel like I can take this breather I so desperately need.

Molly came out to say hello while I was taking a stroll around the garden yesterday...the cat's are like a magnet when I'm out there :)
Patch enjoying a cooler spot by the fence, she likes to sit back and quietly survey her domain sometimes, unlike Molly the pocket rocket :)

My triathlon training is still busy, my coach has me doing as much as I can manage with the kids at home on school holidays, and although it's so hard to get the motivation feeling like this, I did a training ride last night alongside MrW who was also tired from work, but I must say I felt so much better for it afterwards. I love exercise for waking up the body :) I can enjoy a day off today which I will savour I must admit.  Just over 9 weeks until my first Olympic distance triathlon (1.5km Swim, 40km Ride and 10km Run) and I am feeling a little on the fence of madness for wanting to do it!

The boys have the rest of this week and next on holiday then it's time to start school for the new year. We are waiting (not so patiently) for the new class lists to be put up at school to see who the boys will have as teachers.  They have just been starting to miss their friends they don't see regularly so I feel that they are getting ready in themselves for the start of school.  I cannot believe I will have two boys in the middle syndicate this year at school....time is flying!

It's time to slow down in our lives, I can feel it slipping away to fast with the boys growing up.

Knowing I will have some quieter time coming up after the assignment was submitted I started to make some plans for the garden.  On one of my study days last week I weeded a patch along the fenceline for my new rose to be planted......I finally found myself a beautiful Dublin Bay climber, such a stunning red rose which I feel will be a beautiful addition to the garden.  I love looking over my garden but the weeds are more than coming through again so it is time to get back out there and tidy it up...I'm still unsure what to do with the pond however....

The boys and I planted out strawberries in the trough on the deck a few month back and we are now harvesting beautiful sweet strawberries to devour


I have been thinking for a while now about how we can make a chook house work on our property, and I have decided that I will put it in the square section of the vege patch.  I know within my heart that as much as I would love to have a thriving vege garden again, I just don't think I will get it back to what it was with my studies and training to fit in now, so I will sacrifice some of the vege patch for a chook house and keep a section along the fence line to prepare for some autumn vege planting :) Now I just have to get out there and get it all prepared - watch this space, it may take a while! 

I have so many little spring cleaning jobs to do around the house, I need to sit down and make a list and start ticking them off one by one.  A step to reclaiming the control of life again and slowing ourselves back down and refocusing on what really matters in life to us - family and a warm welcoming loving home which is our safe haven xxx

Monday, 12 January 2015

Ruth's Thai Chicken Curry (Red)

Hi All,

I have had a few requests to share this recipe :) I have been adapting this dish for a little while now, so it's ready to share and according to MrW it's up there with the dishes he has when he is abroad so a tick for this one! I also have gotten a good balance of flavours into this dish so the boys happily gobble it down...not to hot but with plenty of flavour.  This is the closest thing I get to make to a stirfry since MrW has quite a strong aversion to stirfry's!

It's a nice Clean Eating recipe as well, if you are lower carb just leave out the rice noodles as the stack load of vege's contribute to your carb intake, or if you prefer serve with Jasmine Rice :) I use the Exotic range for my Asian ingredients which I find in our local supermarket in the international section.



RUTH'S RED THAI CHICKEN CURRY

1pkt Rice Noodles
2tbsp Coconut Oil/Sesame Oil/Olive Oil
500gms Skinless Chicken Breast or Skinless/Bonless Chicken Thighs cut into cubes
1 Red Onion cut into Wedges
3 cloves of Garlic sliced
2 - 2 1/2 tbsps Red Curry Paste
1tbsp Fish Sauce
1tbsp Brown Sugar or Coconut Sugar
Sliced Vegetables - Use a mix of Carrots, Courgettes, Beans, Spring Onions, Capsicum, Baby Sweetcorn (tinned version leave whole), Celery and anything else you might like
1 - 1 1/2 Can's Coconut Milk (full fat)
Juice of a Lemon

Lemon Wedges to Serve

Heat the oil in a wok/deep frypan/Electric Frypan and brown off the chicken, add in the onions and garlic when the chicken is beginning to colour.

Put your Rice Noodles onto cook following instructions - I normally boil mine for 6mins.

When the onion has softened mix through the Red Curry Paste, Fish Sauce and the Brown/Coconut Sugar.  Give this a few mins until it becomes fragrant.

Add all of the vegetables and mix everything together well. Cook for a few mins to start softening the vegetables.  Pour over your Coconut Milk and the juice of a lemon and let simmer until the sauce starts to come together. You will know when the sauce comes together as the colour deepens, the chilli oil is no longer visible and it begins to thicken.

Rinse rice noodles in fresh water to remove the starch and mix through the curry, serve into bowls with a wedge of lemon

N.B:
#Cashew Nuts added with the vegetables are a nice addition, as are Prawns added with the Coconut Milk.
#Use 1 1/2cans of Coconut Milk and 2 1/2 tbsp Red Thai Curry Paste if you like it to be quite saucy otherwise 1 can of Coconut Milk and 2tbsp Curry paste will suffice.
If you like it spicier try adding extra curry paste :)

The Ingredients....





The Process.....







ENJOY!


Friday, 9 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Hi all!

Well it has been the most relaxing holiday we have had in a long time and we are now feeling ready to face the year ahead and the challenges that might pop up.  We spent a few days at the beach with friends just chilling out and hanging at the beach. Apart from that we have just been at home doing our own thing and for me it's been trying to catch up on the study I have put off. 




The kids are off to Grandma's for the week from tomorrow so I can get an assignment done and MrW sadly has to return to work on Monday....it's been such a luxury having him at home for a couple of weeks.

One of my presents for Christmas was this Nadia Lim cookbook! OMG her recipes are amazing! Based on clean eating and so delish, I have had some fun experimenting with some of the recipes....and shock horror! I can follow a cookbook without adapting the recipes lol


Sweet Chilli and Lime glazed Salmon with an Asian Slaw
Lemon, Parsley, Caper and Parmeson crusted Terakhi (white fish), with Summer Cous Cous


The boys have started their training for their Weetbix Kiwi Kids Triathlon in Feb, and I have recently decided that it was time to step my triathlon training up and have found myself a coach - exciting times ahead! I have some big goals in mind for what I would like to achieve and a coach is a sensible choice to achieve this. Time to start saving those pennies! I had such a great triathlon just before Christmas (photos to come for that soon) that I decided that the investment was worth it to see what I could really achieve :) Plan starts on Monday.....eeek!





I don't normally promote many things on here however I'm making an exception for this, I have recently joined a trial group for motivating women, it is absolutely fantastic the support from all of these women from all walks of life who are all ages, shapes and sizes, it is available to anyone around the world as it is all online support, mainly through Facebook....you meet amazing people and the recipe sharing is awesome! The focus is Clean Eating and embracing movement, if you are sitting there thinking 2015 is your year to get moving and clean your eating up then I can totally recommend this group. They run trials every now and then for a month at a time which is a great way to 'see' for yourself what it is all about as it is quite a hard concept to explain, all I can say is look into it if you want to surround yourself with motivated people and support network to fall back on! Even though I am committed to training and do quite a bit of training I still lose the motivation to get out there and just do it...this group has been a great motivator as you see the posts of people putting up their walks, runs, swims or rides for the day...or gym sessions/cross fit for that matter and you think they can do it so can I! If you are thinking "well I don't do that much", that's ok because a lot are only focusing on the act of getting out the door for half an hour and eating clean meals during the day.....I think I may be one of the exceptions to the rule in the general populations of the group..well the trial I am in anyway lol. The website is http://www.motivatemenz.co.nz/ if you are keen to check it out or the Facebook page is MotivateMeNZ.

                                    http://www.startofhappiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/happiness-quote-02.jpg

So for now it's back into routine somewhat from next week, in between my assignment writing and training I will be doing a bit of a spring clean...turning mattresses, giving the windows a wash, cleaning out the fridge, maybe the pantry oh and my car!...all those little jobs that you need to just have time to 'potter' and do - they will become my study break tasks :) I did a large stockpile shop last week so I shouldn't need to go back to the supermarket for a wee while. We have three weeks until school starts for 2015! this year is already starting to fly.


I promise I will have a recipe or two to share over the next wee while!

I'd love to hear how your holidays have been xx
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