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?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Slow Living in 2012 - Month 3

I was thinking that I didn't have much worth posting about for this months slow living, feeling like I've been a bit slack.  But when i started writing a few things down on paper that I've achieved this month, I realized I haven't been too bad !  I have to remember that just because I haven't done something incredibly amazing in most categories, doesn't mean I haven't been successful !!

So here we go for March....

Nourish: It's still iceblock weather up here, so we've been making lots of iceblocks still.  I found out how to make the best choc coated frozen fruit iceblocks this month and they have been a hit with the whole family.  I also made Fiona's chocolate beetroot cake - if you haven't tried it yet, then you're in for a treat - it is soooo yummy !! thanks Fiona !!  We had it with some homemade creme fraiche and it was the bomb ! 

Prepare: Not a lot here, made a big batch of sausage rolls to freeze for lunches, and that was about as good as it got !

Reduce: Went through the kids clothes, sent all of Marlise's too small clothes and shoes to the second hand shop and put away Ruby's old clothes for Marlise.  I was fortunate to have a friend who gave me all her kids old clothes last year so I dug out 'new - old' clothes for Ruby, and also for Marlise.  I'm pretty confident I won't have to buy any new clothes for them for this Autumn and Winter - what a blessing !

Green: Have been using homemade toothpaste all this month and loving it - will post the recipe soon. Still using everything else homemade for toiletries - can't convince my husband to go 'no poo' though !

Grow:  Went away for a week and what little I had in the garden fried in the heat.  Planning to start the garden again after Easter.  However....the kids planted pineapple tops and their watermelon pips out the back, and we just noticed a few days ago that those neglected watermelon seeds are growing !!  They have 5 big seedlings to take care of now - how exciting !  The pineapples seem to have taken too.

Create:  Loving this category this month.  Have been into making felt.  I made a little mat that turned out beautifully, so I got excited and made another mat which is a O's and X's game board for Ruby.  Made a whole lot of wet felted eggs for Easter, and some wet felted balls - I'm getting hooked on this craft. Collected some shells with the kids and made beeswax candles with the shells too.

Enhance: Taught some friends how to make wet felted eggs - does that count?  And Marlise and I attended a community run "Messy Play Day" for little kiddies.  she had so much fun...

Discover:  Borrowed some books on felting from the library and have been reading lots of wonderful blogs on felting too.  Bought this e-book about making wet felted playmats for story telling and playing, they look awesome.  Have also been reading alot about homeschooling.  I really want my girls to have a Steiner based education, and since the closest school to us is 6 hours away, I've decided to homeschool.

Enjoy:  We celebrated Marlise's 2nd birthday this month.  We had a party with just the 4 of us and it was so much fun!  While I try to keep my family well nourished, I've decided that at birthdays, they can have what they like.  Since Marlise is too young to decide, I asked Ruby to choose the menu for her sisters birthday this year...we had homemade sausage rolls and pizza, fresh fruit, chips, peanut M&M's and an orange cake with jaffa icing.  Needless to say, with all that good food on the table, Marlise only ate the M&M''s and birthday cake.  Happy Birthday my girl!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

down by the river...

Now that the weather has cooled a bit, one of our favourite places to go is down to the river mouth.

I love beaches like this where there are lots of shells and stones and drift wood and big logs.  There's lots for the kids to see and explore...

like this skelelton we found.  Ruby discovered what a backbone looks like.

We also found a few too many dead cat fish washed up.  9 that we could see without walking too far...kind of put me off letting the kids go for a swim, but they were fascinating to look at.

They had fun with their shadows, loving the looooong legs !

 And Ruby spent some time writing her name in the sand.

Marlise found a big stick and played with it for ages waving it around saying "King! King!"

And finally, a photo of the 3 of us.  Looks like someones dog got in the picture too ??

Oh, and on our way back to the car, we saw a little snake on the path, eeek! OK, it was only about 20cm long, but a snake is a snake in my book.  Was kinda cool watching it wiggle its way across the sand though.