Friday, August 17, 2012

Road Trip Part 1 - Whale Watching...

We took a few days off and went to Hervey Bay to go see the Whales.  It was the one of the BEST driving holidays we've had.  The Humpback whales stop to play off the coast of Fraser Island before they head back to the cold southern waters - and what a spectacular performance they give too.

We were fortunate enough to have 2 whales approach our boat and swim and dance their way around us for half an hour.  It was AMAZING to watch them.  Whales are curious by nature - they're probably wondering why all these crazy people are waving their arms and oohing and aahing every time they poke their heads or tales up out of the water !

It was a picture perfect day to be out on the water, and we loved every minute of it, well, until I felt sick, but luckily that was only on the way back.  It took 2 hours to get to where the whales were and  Ruby thought it was  neat to stand up on the front of the boat keeping her eye out for a whale.

The water was so clear, we could easily see the whales as they dove down - they were so close to us !  Most of the time within 10 - 20 metres, sometimes closer.  They would dive down on one side of the boat and resurface on the other side - probably amused at all the people scrambling around the boat to follow them ! 

These humpback whales were so graceful, and friendly and they were HUGE - the photos make them look quite small, but they were really big !  Although, our captain told us they were only calves, and the adults would have been twice the size.  It was a wonderful experience for all of us as we watched in awe of these amazing animals.  Ruby was buzzing with excitement as she ran around the boat following the whales.  I loved seeing how much she was enjoying this adventure ! And Daddy was like a big kid too, running around the boat with Ruby snapping hundreds of photos and getting all excited every time they surfaced !  Marlise, on the other hand, seemed to be wondering what all the fuss was about.  The look on her face said - "So it's a big fish - big deal !".  I had her in the Ergo on my back - I didn't want to be stressed about her going over the side of the boat - I wanted to be able to watch the whales too!  Thank goodness she was happy enough to sit there through all the excitement of a bunch of tourists watching whales!

We will definitley be back some day to say hello to the whales again !

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Childrens Festival

On a recent trip to the Sunshine Coast, we were fortunate enough to visit the Childrens Festival at the Noosa Steiner School.  We had the most wonderful day there !

Don't you just LOVE this playground ?  

Ruby, getting a mould of her face done with plaster for her face mask.

Painting and decorating her face mask was lots of fun.

Making a rainbow tie-dye t-shirt took lots of concentration.

Look what she made in the woodwork shed !

mmmm...wood fired pizza, fresh from the oven, tastes sooo good.

Silk painting.

And there was so much more to do that we just didn't have time for...wet felting, candle making, making swords and shields, clay sculpting, flag painting, lots of yummy nourishing food...and loads more.  Can't wait for next year !

Friday, May 4, 2012

Slow Living in 2012 - Month 4

It's hard to believe another month has come and gone, but it's great to look back over that month and see that I have actually achieved something.  I'm participating again in Christine's SLOW LIVING month by month.  I love reading everybody else's contributions too, they are so interesting and varied - maybe I'm just nosey ! But I love to see what other people have been up to in the daily lives.

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, overprocessed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.
I make the bulk of our food from scratch, it just tastes better !  I went to a Thermomix demo the other day, I've been wanting to see this amazing machine for a very long time now.  And yes, it is wonderful - is there anything it doesn't do?  But while it makes so many things incredibly easy to prepare, as I was watching, I was thinking, "but I like to knead my own dough, and I like to prepare food - chopping and stirring etc."  For me that is part of the joy of cooking.  OK there are definitely times when I would love the convenience of being able to push a button, but for now, I like to be a bit old fashioned.  So no thermomix for me...however,  it would be nice to be able to grind my own grains, and make fresh nut butters and...and....sigh....maybe one day !  Getting better at making crackers more often than buying them too.

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.

I got busy and baked a few banana cakes and biscuits for the freezer.  I really need to stock up our freezer with some REAL meals though, it's looking pretty bare at the moment.

Banana cake

REDUCE: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

Rescued an old piano keyboard that was on it's way to the tip.  Somehow we managed to fit it into the car, and now we have a piano at home and we love it !  We also found an almost new worm farm at a garage sale for only $10 - what a score !  Bought myself a $1 shirt at a garage sale too, but it looked awful on me, so I cut the sleeves and bodice off and made a skirt for Ruby.

All the kids came over to see our worms - fascinating stuff !

GREEN:  Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

Ran out of laundry detergent the other day, unexpectedly, and had to make up another batch.  It really is easy to do, so easy that I wasn't evern tempted to run down to the shops and buy some.  I love that ! 

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints.

The kids and I got out and showed our dead stalks some TLC, and guess what ?  they are coming back to life - I was surprised to say the least !  We moved all of our potted herbs around to the back of the house to be in the sun, now that it has cooled down a bit.  Re-potted some and added fresh potting mix to others along with a good long drink. Basil, sage, parsely and rosemary have literally come back from the dead and are thriving.
And did you know that you can regrow celery?  We've planted ours and it's doing well.

CREATE: To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.

I can't get enough of wool and felt at lately...finished a felted toadstool house and made some felted autumn leaves. 

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

Borrowed Rhonda Hetzels DOWN TO EARTH book from the library.  I love her book.  It has inspired me to enjoy EVEN MORE , being at home and making my house a home for my family.

ENHANCE:  Community: Possibilities include supporting local growers & producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group.

We have now formed an official committee, working towards opening a Steiner school here in Gladstone.  Have a look to see what we're all about at  Curtis Coast Steiner.  Together, we have also started a craft group in our local community and hope to be able to encourage and inspire eachother to develop our crafty talents !

I've also joined the local homeschool group.  Such a lovely group of people to be with.

And as a family, we  attended the ANZAC dawn service.  Can you believe it's the first one I've ever been to?  Must say I really enjoyed it, and I think we will make it a yearly event now. 

ENJOY:  Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be rememered from the month here.

April is a month of multiple birthday celebrations in our family - my two sisters, and my twin daughters.  So we all got together and celebrated with a BBQ and swim at the beach.  What an awesome day!  Later,  I made a zucchini chocolate cake for my big girls.  Can't believe they are 20 already.  Shame you missed it Tiare !

3 of my beautiful girls...

And I thought I'd finished todays post with this beautiful poem from here. 

slow down mummy, there is no need to rush,
slow down mummy, what is all the fuss?
slow down mummy, make yourself a cup tea.
slow down mummy, come spend some time with me.

slow down mummy, let’s pull boots on for a walk,
let’s kick at piles of leaves, and smile and laugh and talk.
slow down mummy, you look ever so tired,
come sit and snuggle under the duvet, and rest with me a while.

slow down mummy, those dirty dishes can wait,
slow down mummy, let’s have some fun - bake a cake!
slow down mummy, I know you work a lot,
but sometimes mummy, it’s nice when you just stop.

sit with us a minute,
and listen to our day,
spend a cherished moment,
because our childhood won’t stay!

-R. Knight

Monday, April 30, 2012

Toadstool house...

I finally finshed !  It's been over a year in the making.  Ok,well it's spent most of that year sitting in the cupboard waiting in various stages to be completed.  But now it's here, and I'm so happy, I love it !

Want to take a peak under the roof ?

Isn't it sweet !

I bought the kit from here and it included everything you need to make this little Toadstool house.  Their website also has a video on wet felting for the roof too, which I watched a gazillion times before I had the courage to actually do it!  The roof was my first ever wet felted project, and I went in blind, except for the video.  Must say I was pretty pleased with the result!

Here's my little needle felted toadstool, just made this last night, my first attempt at felting a 3-D object , a bit tricky, but oh well.

And finally, some needle felting onto a piece of felt.  The fleece is included in the kit, but it's a 'design your own' thing. - Another reason why I took so long to do it - had no idea what to put on my design!  The bees and snail are my favourite.

I've decided to keep this for Ruby's birthday in June.  So next project will be to make some little people to live in the toadstool and make it a home !

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Can't find any Autumn Leaves...

My friend lives in Canberra and recently put some photos up on facebook of her son playing in amongst the autumn leaves.  The colours are stunning.  I showed Ruby the pictures, but it's all a bit foreign to her.  Here I am trying to explain that it's Autumn, and in many places the leaves change into beautiful colours of yellow, orange, red, rust, brown and gold.  But, she just doesn't get it.   When she goes outside, all she sees is green, none of these other colours, and the trees aren't loosing their leaves !  She's probably wondering what on earth I'm talking about.  We've looked everywhere around here, and we can't find any autumn leaves anywhere.  So I've decided to make some and bring a bit of Autumn into our home.

I gathered some Autumn coloured wool fleece to make a wet felted mat...

and layed them out in 3 layers of blended colours on top of a piece of bubble wrap (bubble side up). 

The top and bottom layer were layed horizontally, the middle layer vertically. 

Next I put a piece of netting over my fleece and poured a bit of hot water into the middle. 

I then squeezed the water outwards, making sure every fibre of wool was wet, adding more water as needed, but not too much, and added a few drops of dish soap.

Then I gently patted the fleece down and rubbed it until I could see that the fleece was starting to felt.

I replaced the netting with another sheet of bubble wrap,  bubble side down this time!

Then I rubbed in circular motions all over the get the felting process in motion.

Finally, I rolled the bubble wrap up in the towel, like sushi, and rolled back and forth, for ages, and ages, turning the felt piece by 90 degrees every 50 or so rolls. 

The felt will shrink in the direction you roll it, so you need to change the direction to keep your shape even. 

When you think you're done, keep rolling! and then keep rolling some more !!  Your felt should shrink and be about 1/3 the original size.

When you are done, rinse your felt out in cold water and leave it to dry!  This is the front...

and here's the back...I think I'll be able to cut some nice leaves out of this when it dries !

Friday, April 27, 2012

Creme Fraiche Pizza

My sister went to France a few years ago, and after dining in Strassbourg, up near the German border, she came back with this amazing pizza topping.  It was something I'd never heard of before but after we made it once, we were hooked !  Have you ever put creme fraiche on you pizza before? 

Well, after buying creme fraiche once, I was glad to find out you could make it at home, because it is pretty expensive !  And this pizza is so yummy, you

 1 Litre of Cream  +  1 Tablespoon of buttermilk = creme fraiche,

well almost.  Mix them together well in a jar.  Put the lid on, and  leave it on the bench for 24 hours.  Then put the jar in the fridge and leave it another 12-24 hrs and it will thicken up even more.  Delicious !  I love it on cake, or any dessert really, on pancakes, and yeah! on pizza !!

Here's the creme fraiche after 24hrs on the bench and another day in the fridge.  Beautiful !

And here's the pizza.

To make it, spread a good layer of creme fraiche over your pizza dough.  Then add a layer of very thinly sliced raw potato, and sprinkle over some diced bacon.  Cook it in the usual way and serve it with some fresh ground pepper and a nice green salad. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Best Day Ever !"...she said.

Last night I wrote a list.  A list of things I wanted us to do for our homeschool day today.  I was really looking forward to today.  But then somehow, we took a different path...

We decided to go out and do some gardening.  So the kids started filling a pot with earth so we could transplant our turmeric plant.  Then when I took it out of the old pot, we found a whole lot of grubs in amongst the roots.  I didn't know what they were, so we collected our grubs and went to ask our neighbour.  

While we were there, she gave us a couple of her yummy, crunchy, homegrown cucumbers.  When we got home, we discovered a caterpillar in one of them. Ruby was so excited ! Then we found another one burrowing into the cucumber...even MORE exciting ! - Yes, we know the story about the Very Hungry Caterpillar very well.

So now she wanted to keep her little pets.  We put them into a box with a leaf, some apple and some cucumber.

While the pets were busy munching, we read the Very Hungry Caterpillar (a few times).  Then Ruby acted out the story.  She crawled along the floor like caterpillars, ate food (cushions, and blocks that were lying around), spun a cocoon (got wrapped up in a blanket), and then....

she turned in to a beautiful butterfly and flew all around the room...happy days !!

A bit later, I thought we could make butterflies out of wool fleece.  But Ruby had other ideas, so we went with that.  It's the first time she made fleece pictures and she really enjoyed it.

Marlise was happy to do some wet felting - it kept her away from the table so Ruby could 'paint' with her fleece in peace.

She spent the rest of the day playing with friends outside in the beautiful sunshine, cooking, swimming, jumping, and dancing, and finally her and the neighbours kids put on a little show for us when Daddy got home.  Life is good when you're 4.

Ruby told me it was the "BEST DAY EVER!" - she knows how to boost my confidence as a new homeschool mum !!  Thanks Ruby !

Monday, April 16, 2012

Homeschool - Day 1

No, don't worry, I'm not going to give a day to day account of our homeschooling experiences, but today was special - our first day!  Ruby has been so excited to start homeschool.  For the last 2 weeks of school holidays, every night has had the same question "Can we start tomorrow ?"  And finally last night the answer she wanted to hear "YES!"

Two excited little girls...they couldn't believe their luck when I told them we were going to the playground AND for a walk so early in the morning.  Ruby had been wanting to START school since 6:30 am! 

I sort of had a plan of how I wanted our day to go - that pretty much went out the window right from the start, but it really didn't matter, because we had a great day.

Ruby rode her scooter, and we stopped to notice how the bark was coming off the trees.  We looked for some Autumn leaves, but I guess we are in the wrong part of the world for that - everything is green and lush, we don't really notice the change in seasons much here, except by temperature - hot and hotter !  We have noticed that it has become a bit more windy lately though.

Marlise enjoys looking at the world from her perch on my back.

Along the way, Ruby noticed this tree that was shaped like a Christmas tree.  She got really excited, and we stopped for ages while she decorated it with sticks and bark and stuff.  Then we had competitions to see who could throw a stick and get it to land closest to the top of the tree - not quite as easy as it sounds ! 

Marlise got bored with decorating after a few minutes and went horse riding instead.

Later, at home, we read some stories, and told some stories.  We learnt a verse about a slug from a library book.  Ruby has learnt it by heart and loves it which is great ! 

When Marilse went to sleep I asked Ruby to tidy the lounge room which she did! - All part of our happy homeschool  I told her !  (OK, so I might have bribed her just a little with the promise of painting afterwards).  She vaccuumed the floor - she loves to vaccuum and has done it before, but today, she learned how to wind the power cord back onto the vaccuum cleaner when she was done.  Such a simple task that I take for granted and have always done for her.  But today I took the time to show HER how to do it, and she did it with such pride, I was really proud of my girl.

So then we got out some paint.  I had visions of a blissful, peaceful painting experience - producing a colourful, wonderful piece of art.    Where did I get that thought from? 

Instead, this happened, red and white became pink, the canvas turned pink, the table turned pink, and Ruby turned pink.  Not quite what I had in mind, but she had so much fun doing it, she was almost massaging the paint into the canvas, she LOVED the feel of it so squishy and slimy - a wonderful sensory experience.  And now it's hanging in her room.  She had a nice long shower, (thankfully no water restrictions here) and cleaned herself up. "What's next for homeschool mum?" just doesn't end with my Ruby !

So we survived Day many more years to go? I can do this !!

Friday, April 13, 2012

What !! You DON"T make Tortillas ??

I am always  AMAZED   that  OTHER   people are amazed because I make my own tortillas.  I mean, seriously, they are the easiest things in the world to make  !!  My big girls have been making them for years - they are expert tortillas makers.  Unfortunately for me, they have both left home, so now I have had to start making them again .

Tortillas are so versatile.  Wraps are IN in a big way - the healthier option - sandwich wraps, burritos, enchiladas, and all that other delicious Mexican food, you can even make pizza out of them, they can be sweet or savoury, they can be made into crackers, and probably have a billion other uses too.

So have a try at making your own, they really are so easy to make and taste sooo much better than those perfectly round bits of cardboard you get at the shops !

Here's how my girls and I have always made them...


4 cups plain flour

125 gr softened butter

1 tsp sea salt

1 1/3 cups water

Place flour, butter and sea salt into a bowl.  Squish the butter into the flour and salt with your hands.

Add all of the water and mix it until it all comes together nicely.

Knead it for about 5 mins until you get a nice smooth dough

Divide the dough into about 12-16 balls (a bit bigger than a golf ball size).

Then coat a ball lightly with flour to stop it sticking to the bench, and roll it out thinly - thinner is better.  Make sure it fits into your pan !  Round shapes are good, but this shape is so much easier to roll out ha! ha!

Place your tortilla into a DRY frying pan on a med - med high heat.  It's likely that the first one will be a dud - just like when you make crepes!  It will only take a couple of mins for each tortilla.  Can you see the bubbles in this photo?  This is a good indication that its ready to flip over - they don't  always bubble though.  Roll out the next tortilla while this one is cooking...

Cooking the second side

Finished batch of tortillas.  I keep them wrapped in a clean teatowel until dinner time.  They keep well in a plastic zip loc or airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.  I'm sure you could freeze them too.

Now you have another food item you won't have to buy at the supermarket ever again!! 

 What's your favourite thing to wrap up in a tortilla?