Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I'm feeling keen to try some new recipes this week, but have have also added some comfort food to this week's menu plan.

Monday: Pesto, Rocket & Bacon Pasta
Tuesday: Vegie, Ricotta & Cheddar Frittata
Wednesday: Sweet & Sour Pork & Apple Kebabs
Thursday: Coconut, Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry
Friday: Tuna Mornay
Saturday: Tomato, Feta & Olive Pizza
Sunday:  Eggs on toast :-)

Check out Orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday for more menu planning ideas (there's also a giveaway this week).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bug Party Invitations

My Miss Four will become Miss Five in a couple of weeks, and it is her turn to have a party this year (her big sister celebrates her birthday in the following month, so we alternate birthday parties in the interest of fairness...and laziness!).

Miss (almost) Five really wanted a Fairy party, but as most of her closest friends are boys, we decided against that theme (fortuitously, the mermaid invitation she received last week was for a party at the Fairy shop to be held the day before her birthday, so she'll get to do the fairy thing anyway).  I was a bit stuck for an alternative theme that would suit both genders.  However, when the birthday girl told me she wanted a butterfly cake, inspiration struck me - a Bug/Creepy Crawly party!  I've already managed to come up with a heap of ideas, and the theme really suits both the boys (spiders, snakes, worms, etc) and the girls (butterflies, ladybugs, etc.).  Unfortunately, her birthday is in the middle of winter, so we will most likely be confined indoors.  For this reason, we have decided to have it at home, and keep it managebly small (as she is turning five, she has chosen five friends to invite - their parents and siblings are also invited).

I searched the web (pardon the pun) for some bug themed invitation ideas and was inspired to make these Ladybug Invitations:

They were really simple (and fun) to make.  I used a saucer to cut circles out of red and black card stock for the body.  To make the head, I used a cup to cut a smaller semi-circle shape out of black card.

I then stuck the head onto the back of the black circle.  For the ladybug's wings, I simply cut the red circle in half and drew black dots on randomly with a black permanent marker.  The kids had a template that I used to make a nice neat circle (black dot stickers would have worked well too, if I had some). 

To attach the wings to the body, I punched a small hole through the slightly overlapped wings and the black circle and inserted a split pin through the hole.  This allows the wings to move up and out of the way so the party details can be read underneath.  I gave the ladybug some white sticker dot eyes and glued a strip of magnet to the back (I cut up an old calendar fridge magnet for this).  I also coloured in some cotton buds with black permanent marker, trimmed them to size and glued them to the back for antennae.

Finally, I used a silver pen to write the invitation wording:
Dear (Name),
Sorry to bug you,
But we're excited -
(Child's Name)'s turning five
And you're invited!
Bee ready to swarm on the (Family Name)'s hive ((address)) on (date).  The infestation will commence at (time).  To RSVP, buzz (Name) on (phone number) by (date).

Stay tuned for more bug-inspired party goodies over the next couple of weeks!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

My copy of the July 2010 Australian Good Taste magazine arrived in the mail the other day, so I thought I would try some new recipes from this issue.  I really like the recipes in AGT, I find them easy to follow, the ingredients aren't overly exotic and they are reliable.  Most of the recipes find their way onto the Taste website as well, which is a magnificent recipe resource.  They have good competitions in the mag too!

So here is my Menu Plan Monday for this week:

Monday: Cauliflower curry (from AGT July issue)
Tuesday: Shepherd's Pie
Wednesday: Rosemary and mushroom risotto
Thursday: Quiche Lorraine
Friday:  Zucchini soup
Saturday: Sausage, tomato & bean tray bake followed by Orange & almond self-saucing pudding (both from AGT July 2010)
Sunday: Tuna, haloumi and butter bean salad

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mermaid Party Invitation

Miss 4 received this party invitation yesterday, and I thought it was so beautiful I just had to share it with you...

She is so shiny and beautiful!  Such a simple, yet effective idea using cardboard, sequins, glitter, ribbon and glue.  The party details are handwritten on the back. There is also a magnet glued thoughtfully on the back so Miss Mermaid can take pride of place on our fridge door.

I think I will need to pinch this idea at some stage in the future!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lucky Me!

When I decided to buy nothing brand new last year, I was expecting to become a regular patron of the local op shops as my kids grew out of their clothes. I have been really lucky on a couple of occasions to find exactly what I was looking for (once I walked into an op shop specifically looking for a Bob the Builder raincoat for my 3yo son, and couldn't believe my eyes when there was an almost new size 4 Bob the Builder raincoat on the rack!), but more often than not, I would walk out empty handed (I'm not much of an impulse shopper, I tend to only go shopping for specific things I need).

However, my need to visit the op shops has been minimal, thanks to some very kind new friends. We moved to this town when my twins were one week old. As you can probably imagine, arriving in town with two newborns, a 19 month old toddler, and a 4 year old pre-schooler was not easy and our social life was virtually non-existent for the first year or two. So last year, when the twins turned two, I felt I was ready to join the local playgroup. I'm so glad I did, as it has been a wonderful opportunity for both myself and the kids to form some really lovely friendships. The other mums made me feel so welcome and I look forward to these friendships in the years to come.

Oops, I've gone off on a bit of a tangent there...now back to the point! I happened to mention to some of the mums at playgroup last year that I had committed to the buy nothing brand new challenge as my own personal protest against consumerism. Their level of interest in part motivated me to eventually start this blog. They were so supportive, in fact, that I have been on the receiving end of bags and bags of clothes and goodies - things that their own children had grown out of and no longer needed. They seemed to be so pleased to have someone to give these things to and were motivated to clean out their cupboards. And I, of course, was over the moon to be on the receiving end of it all. Most of the things were boys clothes, which was exactly what I really needed, but I've also been given bikes, a helmet, shoes, hats, school uniforms, pyjamas, and coats. And the bags of things keep coming, even though my buy nothing brand new thing is officially over.  Now all I need is to find someone that I can pass all my things onto when my kids outgrow them (fortunately we have a childcare centre around the corner who have been happy to take the toys and baby items we no longer need, so that's a good start)! 

Here is a pic of just a handful of items that have been given to me:

In addition to all of that, I am also very lucky to have discovered that another mum from my daughter's school, Christine, shares a similar interest in back to basics and sustainable living. I happened to have seen some beautiful soaps that Christine had made for another friend, and soon after I commented to Christine about how lovely they were, I was in possession of some of the delicious bars myself! Christine has written about her soap making (among other things) on her fabulous blog, Slow Living Essentials. Thank you, Christine, for your generosity :-)

Here is a pic of a couple of the bars she gave to me most recently:

Now this is what I think living in a community should be all about!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Wow, is it time for Menu Plan Monday already? Where did last week go? Here in Australia, we're enjoying a long weekend...for some strange reason we celebrate the Queen's birthday in June, despite her birthday actually being in April. Go figure. We are still super busy with work stuff at the moment, so we stayed home all weekend. It was pretty cold, so we lit the fire for the first time this year and the house has therefore been extra warm and cosy. As we weren't going anywhere, I took the opportunity to start toilet training my son. He has made huge progress over the last couple of days, so we are now so, so close to finally being a nappy-free household.

So here is what we'll be eating this week...

Monday: Cauliflower & Nutmeg Soup
Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs
Wednesday: Baked Chicken with Sweet Potato and Chickpeas
Thursday: Silverbeet Pie
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Chicken & Shiitake Dumplings and Pork, Shiitake & Water Chestnut Dumplings
Sunday: Chickpea Curry

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Knitted Pencil Case

This is a little project I have been working on for my daughter, who has been asking me for a nice pencil case to take to school. I found the pattern in the book "Essential Knits for Kids" by Debbie Bliss.

Knitted in garter stitch, the pencil case is quick and easy to knit (no increasing or decreasing required). The pattern calls for five colours to be knitted in randomly alternating stripes, but you could really use any colour combination you like (I used six colours). Inserting the zip and lining is a little on the fiddly side, though. I handstitched the lining using a small blanket stitch (just because I like blanket stitch), but I'm sure a simple slip stitch would be just as good.

For an added decorative touch, I decided to try my hand at crocheting a flower. I have never learned to crochet, so I was being quite ambitious, really. However, thanks to modern technology, I managed to whip one up fairly easily that I think looks pretty good!

My inspiration for the flower came from here. I found some videos on YouTube to help me figure out how to 'sc', 'dc', etc. I only went as far as two colours for my flower, as I thought the three-coloured version would be too big for the pencil case. I'm pretty sure I made some mistakes, but overall I'm happy with the way it turned out and I am now keen to try my hand at more crocheting!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

What a week we have had! I have to admit that I am failing dismally in my quest to simplify my life at the moment. My husband is starting up his own business, so I have been very busy helping him get things sorted out. Hopefully things will settle down again soon!

It hasn't been all work in the last few days. On Saturday, we adopted this little lady from the local animal shelter...

She is 8 weeks old and is a real sweetie. I've had a cat just about my whole life but have never had a kitten (well, I got my first cat when I was around 5 so I don't remember him as a kitten). We weren't really interested in getting another cat, as it's only a few weeks since we lost our old, much loved cat. That was until I saw a mouse in the house! Hopefully Kitty with have a long life like my other cats - my first cat lived to 17 years and my second was 19 when we lost him.

So here is what we'll be having for dinner this week:

Monday: Slow Cooked Beef Bourguignon
Tuesday: Carrot & Ginger Soup
Wednesday: Tofu & Vegetable Stir fry
Thursday: Cauliflower Quiche
Friday: Fried Rice
Saturday: Chicken Tikka curry
Sunday: Red Lentil & Pumpkin Soup

Feel free to check out other menu plan ideas here.