Friday, July 31, 2015

Homemade Lemon Cordial

As I have mentioned, part of my new simple lifestyle is to start making more food from scratch.  You've seen my ice cream attempt (which was delicious...and has been replicated three times already), and I have given pasta a go, and I had fun the other day making butter, and I will be trialling homemade bread done the old fashioned not using a bread machine.  I've been putting this one off actually, for some reason it's terrifying idea...what's the worst that could happen really!?!  Some kind of random yeast explosion?  Anyway....

The one big success I had was making lemon cordial, a recipe that I got off my mother.  She used to make it for us, although the recipe itself belonged to her mother.  It's fantastic.  A real bitey lemon flavour, with a crazy amount of sugar, but I water it down for the kids so much that I'm more than happy to give it to them, especially knowing that there is no preservatives and other nasties in it.

So here we Grandmother's recipe....

You need...

The juice of 4 oranges
2 lemons
Finely grated rind of 2 oranges and 2 lemons.  (Now for my attempt I actually used 4 lemons because my oranges were not very make the call based on what you have)
1 1/2 oz's of tartaric or citric acid (which is equal to 42.5g)
1 tsp Epsom salts
2 lb sugar (907.2 grams)
1136 ml boiling water

Ok, so I know the amounts are a little weird, but these are all taken from Nan's old recipe based on the old system, then converted so I can understand it, bear with me on that!

Find yourself a nice big container (I used a big deep bucket like container) and pour the water over all the ingredients.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Bottle when cold.

Simple as that!  I had an empty cordial bottle and a wine bottle (of all things), and I filled these up, plus had a jar full of the remainder which I later poured into a bottle once some had been drunk.  Make sure you get yourself a little funnel, it makes pouring the cordial into the bottles a lot easier.

I'm going to look up some other recipes and try making some other flavours.  Give it a's so easy, you'll wonder why you ever bought store bought cordial in the first place!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bye Bye Super Mum

Ok, so I'm going to admit it.  I don't want to be a 'super mum'.  Phew!  What a relief to get that off my chest.  That's it, I've decided.  I'm going to stop feeling like I'm not achieving anything because I'm mostly 'just a mum' and start embracing the housewife tag.  Stop feeling like I'm lacking in some compartment of my life because I don't have a high flying career as well as kids, a gym membership and a large (but intimate) circle of friends.  This is the start of me trying to not 'be it all.'  So this is also my message to you, that you don't need to feel that you have to 'be everything.'

Women have come a long way over the decades, and thanks to our trail blazing sisters of the past we can be grateful that we are able to vote, have an education and hold a well paying job if we so desire.  But somewhere, in the last few decades, it has become almost excepted that you WILL go to university after school, you WILL settle in to a career, you WILL wait until you are almost past the point of child bearing age before you start trying to pop a few kiddies out and in no way will you EVER take on the surname of your husband.  Somewhere along the way women have almost turned the knife on themselves and now there can be feelings of guilt attached to a life that doesn't involve a 9 to 5 corporate job, guilt over being 'just a housewife' (with 'housewife' seeming to be a dirty word nowadays) and wanting to take care of your husband is met with a raised eyebrow and a look that tells you they are thinking your partner is a chauvinist pig.
I'm a bit old fashioned in my thinking that if you decide that you want to start a family and become a mother that it is time that you really start to be a mother and be at home with your children.  But...we are all different and some women really want to go back to work and this is fantastic.  Hopefully they can afford childcare, or have someone to care for their kids, or if they do pay for childcare they are actually earning enough to cover the cost of the care.  If I was to go back to work full time it probably wouldn't cover the cost of childcare, so this, for me, is also another reason I don't work.  There are others, however, that have no choice, and with the cost of living have to go back to work, and I feel sorry for these women...because there would be some who are happy to go back to work, but then there would be others who would really prefer to be at home raising their kids instead of paying someone else to do it for them.  I am lucky, and feel really grateful, that my husband works hard enough to earn enough for both of us...and not only that...wants me to be at home with the kids.
Anyway, having said all of that, I have decided to stop feeling guilty or undervalued or apologetic when I say "mostly I'm a stay at home mum"...('mostly' because I do occasional freelance work with a magazine that comes out four times a year.)  You would have no idea how much better I feel about myself!  Such a change in my attitude, and also a change in how I feel about my every day.  I was feeling bored and frustrated with being 'stuck at home with the kids', but now I have embraced the housewife tag (#housewife)!!!.....I feel happy.
As a side note it is interesting that a lot of the pressure to be a 'super mum' comes from other mothers.  You are probably familiar with what goes know, you feel guilty because you didn't breast feed for longer than a year, you child wasn't toilet trained at 6 months old (say what??) or whatever it is mothers can sometimes 'compete' about.  Feeling relaxed and confident in what you are doing in your own life is so important and being a little older (blergh) and I suppose wiser now, I have finally been able to find my place in life, within my role as a mum and yes, as a housewife.

I think the fast paced world that we live in, where you constantly have to be striving forward and working towards the next 'big' thing doesn't help us to be happy with our current circumstances.  This was what I was finding, so as I have mentioned before, I have decided to jump off the merry-go-round and live a more simple life.  I'm content now I've switched my thinking and making sure I'm enjoying the moment because before I know it the kids will be all grown up and I will wonder where my babies have gone.  For example, next year my five year old and four year old boys are starting school I will only have my little girl at home and three at school....where did that time go?
So having pointed out how important it is to embrace the housewife in you, if that is where you are right now (and feeling less than excited about it)....make sure you don't do what I did...which was forget about myself.  I have found that just by dressing a little nicer each day, and taking a bit more pride in my appearance, has strangely helped my days feel a lot better.  I am sure there are lots of things you can do, such as take time out to go for a walk, do a gym class, or learn to dance, but whatever it is, make sure that you don't get so caught up in the endless tasks of raising a family and running a household that you forget to take time out for yourself.  This is where I came in with the idea to dress up each day, rather than just do my usual boring jeans and shirt combo.  I'd just been not bothering about myself and starting to get more and more angry because I was starting to feel like I wasn't important to anyone....even myself.  You have to be important to yourself first...and respect yourself first and foremost....before you can go on to respect anyone else.  There is also the fact that looking after kids, a husband and running a household is not an easy job, and if you're anything like me you're at it from dawn to dusk and beyond, so you really need to learn to stop, slow down and take time out for yourself. 
The other thing I have done to help kick the 'super mum' tag is to go back to the more traditional idea of 'letting my husband wear the pants'...which I have used this phrase before in a previous post, but I think it best sums up how I like it to be in my household.  I have been married before and when he left me I was left to be both the mum and the dad, and frankly this double role I had was hard to shake after I re-married.  I had to stop and let him do know, like fixing things and mowing the lawn.  I was just used to doing it all.  I'm pretty strong willed too, so tend to stick to my guns if we ever disagree about anything, so I have found that by letting go the thought that I NEED to do everything has dramatically reduced my stress levels.  If you want to look at it in the most basic way possible....the male of our species is naturally stronger and more capable at certain things, which is something that is true for the animal kingdom too...but it is wired in to a mans DNA that they want to protect and care for their partners and their offspring and I think it is important to let your husband play the role that he was geared to do.  It's wrong that today's society makes out that it is bad if you let yourself be taken care of, but I have found over the last few weeks of accepting this mindset that it works really well.  I am happy and I feel protected and cared for and certainly way less stressed. 
So having established that I am no longer trying to be Super Mum (with or without the cape), what things can help pull you out of the 'bored housewife' rut?...... 
Attitude.  A positive attitude goes a long way.  I start my day with a half hour session of yoga (I have DVDs) and, as well as giving me a good all over stretch with the hope it will improve my sore back, it puts me in a good mood.  When I say attitude I also mean changing my attitude towards my role in the household as well as my husband's role as provider.  Don't think it's a bad thing...letting go the reins is a life saver, trust me.
Dressing up, including doing my hair and some makeup.  It sounds really weird, and I have been getting comments ..."'re wearing a SKIRT!!".  Yes, it's been kind of funny how knocked over people are (those that know me as ONLY ever wearing jeans), and the reactions I have been getting.  I mean, even the mailman who delivered a parcel to me this week was like...."You're in a always wear jeans...." But this little change has made a big difference.  I've had regular comments from various people on how nice I look, which it is lovely being complemented, and weirdly it makes my day kind of fun wearing something that IS fun.
Pride in the mundane.  So I'm talking about the normal things I do during the day at home.  For me I have taken up baking in a big way.  As mentioned in a previous post, this week I made pasta, cordial and ice cream, yesterday I made two banana cakes (because there was enough over ripe bananas for I froze one) and this morning I made scones and a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  My husband has finished shearing our sheep now so I hope I can organise for him to put in a vegetable garden for me so I can fiddle about outside, and I also plan on teaching myself to sew....which should be interesting to say the least.
Turning inwards.  Looking more in towards my home and myself, looking inwards rather than trying to find what it is I need on the outside.  Does that make sense?  For me it means shutting down a lot of social media, or certainly reducing it, limiting television, ignoring advertising and shutting out the disturbing parts of the world.
Embracing a simple life and the gentle attitude that comes with it.
Have you thought of making changes in your life?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Homemade Ice Cream

I mentioned in a previous post that I have been busy in the kitchen over the last week doing lots of baking but also making a few things that I normally buy...such as pasta, cordial and ICE CREAM!!!  This was my first attempt!  It is delicious!  And really easy.  I totally suggest you try it because it's way better than anything I have ever bought and I made it without an ice cream definitely don't need one.

I have decided that I am never buying ice cream again, not after discovering how simple and delicious this was, and it will be easy to do a whole variety of flavours as well as add interesting things like fruit or chocolate chips or Smarties or.......yes....well......we could get carried away here.....

Anyway, this is not my recipe, I'm not that clever, I got this out of a brilliant new book I have about simple living which is called 'Down to Earth' by Rhonda Hetzel, an Australian woman who has a blog of the same name, and lives a lovely simple life.

The recipe called for 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of cream (I used thickened cream, which I think the gelatine in this helped it with the freezing process), 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (you can also use 1 vanilla bean),and a 400ml can of sweetened condensed milk.

To make the ice cream you put the milk and the cream in a saucepan and warm it over a medium heat, then add the vanilla extract or vanilla bean seeds.  Bring it to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.  Remove the vanilla bean (if using these!), then add the condensed milk and stir it all up.  Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool, once it's cold put it in a clean ice cream container, whack on the lid and pop it in the freezer. 

This is where you can use an ice cream machine, so you wait until the mixture has started to form ice crystals and then you put it in the machine and start processing.  However I just used old fashioned arm power, which turned out great.  I waited until it had started to form ice crystals (so it was a bit slushy) then took it out of the freezer and churned it up a bit.  I stuck it back in for a couple of hours (because I forgot about it...), then took it out and gave it another mix.  I put the lid back on and didn't see it again until the morning and it was fine.  YUMMY!!!

This batch was a bit of a trial, but it worked out beautifully.  It is not creamy like store bought ice cream, but it is a bit creamy and icy at the same time, which is fine and it tastes lovely.  I think you definitely need to take the time to stir it a few times as I think it is the mixing process that gets the air in there and fluffs it up to make it creamier.  Just try not to forget about it like I did!

Give it a'll love it!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Samples of Time

I meet a really lovely lady this week during one of my interviews for the magazine.  She lives out in a gorgeous part of Gippsland called Jindivick, where the township is a tiny nest of a school, a cafĂ© and a general store.  There is also a pretty nice restaurant.  If I ever go through there again I'll stop and take photos, I promise.  Anyway, this interview took twice as long because we really hit it off and found that we both have the same philosophy to life, for me this being a new mindset on what I want.  It was wonderful to hear my viewpoints coming from someone else and solidified the fact'm not crazy for wanting to turn back time a little and get off the whirly gig of what life is today.  She talked about how she wanted to live off the land, eating what she produces on her property as much as possible, and just accept things for what they are, living in the moment and enjoying the journey, rather than always waiting for what is coming up and hoping the future will bring us something better.  I totally agree with her. 

So there are a couple of eras I want to pinch things from to help make up my life.  There is the 1950s, as I have mentioned, but I am also quite fond of some of the aspects of the 1940s.  Love the clothes they wore, it's a style I have discovered that suits me as I bought a new dress that arrived yesterday and it's the first dress that actually looks good on me.  Remarkable.  Also, can't get enough of the music.  I was born in the wrong decade.  Anyway... the war was definitely a downside, but even so, there were some good things that came out of the war, particularly for women....who were needed to be employed in positions that were once almost 'men only' jobs.
I guess this is the bonus of living in the world that we do today, and something I discussed with the woman I interviewed the other day.  We are lucky that we can take the best from any time we want and mix it together with what we have today to create something perfect for ourselves.  For example, if you want to grow all your own vegetables you can.  If you want the convenience of buying everything from a big supermarket then it's all right there.  See?  Pick and choose.
So what is it I want to mix in my concoction of life?  Here goes...
From the 1940s....
The fashion... They had style.  Definitely.  And I love how resourceful women were back then with all the restrictions of the war.  Can't imagine drawing a line down the back of my legs so it looked like I was wearing stockings...but none the less, the fashions were quite flattering.  This is my new dress, I just had to show you.
I'm really sorry about this alarming close up bust, but I wanted to show you the detail in the collar and the cute buttons, and also that it isn't just a spotty dress.  How pretty are the flowers?!
Anyway, so there's the fashion and how women always looked nice and took pride in their appearances.  There was also the hairstyles!  The Victory Roll!  What a piece of artwork that was!
I'm afraid I haven't even tried any of these yet.  Somehow I just don't have the co-ordination, and frankly, I'm only JUST trying wearing my hair in other configurations that aren't a high ponytail.  Points to me for actually wearing it down, although I have been scooping up some of the front and creating some sort of rolly bit at the front.  I'll figure it out one day...perhaps if I suddenly grow an extra pair of hands, or if my husband by some strange chance just happens to decide that he wants to learn to do my hair (!) although this is doubtful.

The music!  Love the music from the 1940s.  I grew up listening to Glenn Miller Big Band stuff, as my Dad had a record (yes...I said record!), and I thought the Andrew Sisters were pretty cool too since I used to sing at school in choirs and loved doing harmonies and that sort of thing.  I actually found a lovely blog following the life of The Boyer Sisters who love vintage fashion and sewing and they have a singing group that is just like the Andrew Sisters.  You can buy their music here, which I did, and I have basically been listening to it and driving my kids crazy. 
I've talked about how I want to get back to a more simple way of cooking and eating, discussing it in a post here.  So far I have stuck to my guns and this week I have made pasta from scratch (without a pasta machine....that was fun!), ice cream and had a go at my grandmother's recipe for cordial...which was successful!  All of these were easy and tasted great and didn't really take that much effort at all.

No technology.  Ok, when I say that I mean less technology because today it's all around us but you can be strict with yourself and get in to the habit of using less technology.  Yes, I use the internet to write my blog, and there are a few blogs I like to read, and you can't go past shopping online when you're living in a regional town because it gives you access to so much more, however I'm not on Facebook much or any other social media very much any more, and it's a nice habit to get in to.  I have the television off a lot now, listen to music most of the time and limit how much technology the kids are exposed to.  I rarely watch the news now, (I know...I'm out of touch with the world) but it's all bad news generally and I'm just not interested in being depressed.
I think that both these eras were more about family, and spending good quality family time.  When I was little we would usually go somewhere every weekend, whether it was a picnic or a museum or the beach, my parents would take us somewhere so we could spend time together as a family and also have lots of life experiences.  I think this is really important.  Sometimes we did have weekends at home where Dad would mow the lawn and Mum would work in the garden.  We would ride billy carts down our street (we were on a crazy hill), ride our bikes, play in the back garden (which was least it felt like it then) and happily occupied our days with plenty of non-beep-beep-computer-type-thingos.  I guess it was easier to not play with technology then because we just didn't have it, but we certainly weren't lacking for anything in entertainment.

I think this is where this post crosses over and blends with the best bits of the 1950s.  Family was important then and you get the impression that the family home was a real nest, somewhere for everyone to come back to and feel completely secure.  It was the job then of the wife and mother to make it feel like this safe nest, and even though this today is an outdated idea, I really like it.  It shouldn't be an outdated idea because families are the most important thing, and caring properly for your kids sits well above that, it's just today's society that makes a woman feel bad about herself if she doesn't have a high paying career.  I do have a freelance job that takes up a little bit of my time, but mostly I am a housewife.  And now I think like one I am starting to enjoy it. 

Now this one, unfortunately, is quite controversial.  Shock horror!!  I like to take care of my husband.  WTF??!!  Yes, I know.  But I do.  I like to bring him a cup of tea in bed in the morning.  Sometimes he does it for me, and it's nice, however mostly I make him a cuppa.  I like to serve him up a nice dinner.  He always thanks me for it too.  It's nice to be appreciated for it.  I like to have his shearing clothes washed and dried for him, it's really important because he can only wear his dungarees shearing (his special shearing pants)...and they take ages to dry due to the double layer of fabric in the I have to stay on top of his washing.  I run the household.  He's told me several times that he couldn't function without me as I pay all the bills, do all the paperwork and handle everything to do with the bank, the accountant, etc...and even when we built our house I found the land, organised the mortgage broker, the bank, did the paperwork for that....etc...etc..etc...  He doesn't have time for all of this because he's at work earning the money to pay for it all of this is my job.  And he appreciates it.  So even though you might jump up and down and look at the picture above and think ..."how sexist!!!"... I actually take great pleasure in making my husband happy by doing the littlest things for him.  If you were to think about what he does for me then you would understand why completely.  He's bent over smelly sheep day after day after day after day after get the idea...and it's possibly one of THE hardest physical jobs ever.  Then when he's not at work he is either helping his parents with their cattle at their farm, or doing odd jobs, or he's shearing our sheep, drenching, crutching, mustering....the list goes on.  He deserves my attention when he gets home because basically...he works physically hard, and he PAYS for my life. 
The one other thing that I want to take from both the 40s and the 50s is the parenting ideals.  Some parts of it.  I hope that my kids grow up with strong morals and learn to respect their elders, as well as their parents, others and themselves.  I hope they get involved in sports, music, dance, drama and whatever else they are passionate about and don't have time to be roaming the streets aimlessly and causing havoc.  It would be nice to think that they could save themselves for marriage too, or at least make good and wise choices in that department.  It seems that kids and teenagers back then were more respectful and I think that is something that I hope can be brought forward into my household.
I guess we all want our kids to grow up to be the best they can be and that needs to come from the parents first. Thinking about what I can influence that will have an impact on their lives is the most important thing for me to focus on, and I think the rest will just filter on down from there.
So what are the best bits that I want to pull from today?  Probably not much you are thinking, and actually you are sort of right.  Today's society is really letting me down.  I'm sick of everybody having to have everything immediately.  I'm sick of obnoxious teenagers or 20 something's that have no respect.  I'm sick of the violence on television and the general state of the world.  I'm also tired of the pace of everything.  But things I can't live without? 

My car, unfortunate, but yes.  I'm 'Mum's Taxi Service' most of the time so our family just couldn't do without it.
My phone.  I do have a smart phone and probably could go back to just a 'normal' phone.  Actually I did once last year for a good while when I broke my last one while bumping up and down on my saddle.  I grew up during a time when mobiles weren't invented yet (say what?!) and we all survived ok.  When I was at school if you needed to ring your Mum you used the pay phone!  Crazy!  However now I don't have a landline and it is handy to have it on me.  It is also handy when you try and pay for groceries and discover that you forgot to transfer money from one account to another (this has happened to me) you can do it right there on your phone.
The internet.  As mentioned I use it to blog, there are a few blogs I read like I would a magazine and I need email for work.  And yes, I like having the access to clothing stores that are all around the world!  ModCloth anyone?!
Medicine.  You can't go past the fact that we are well looked after nowadays by our doctors and the ever increasing advances in medical discoveries are most amazing.  I take medication daily for epilepsy and without it I'd be in trouble. 
Modern conveniences in our homes.  Yep...these are handy, you can't deny it.  I'm not going to stop using my washing machine ( I don't have a I stick to the age old tradition of hanging the washing on the line outside), I use the microwave occasionally and like to watch the odd movie on the television.  It is a good idea to think about how much you use your appliances and try and limit things, just from an environmentally happy viewpoint.
What are your favourite things from which eras that you would combine to create a perfect life?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Simple Food

Part of my aim, with my new simple lifestyle, is to change the way we eat, although not only that...but change the way we look at food.  A leaf needs to be taken out of our grandparent's book, or for those who are younger than me (!), perhaps your great grandparents.  A time when they made their own butter, drank full cream milk and weren't scared of potatoes!  A time when they still remained skinny.  Here we are cutting out carbs and taking out fats, but our problem is that we eat more than our ancestors did, we are no where near as active in our day to day lives, and we stuff ourselves with processed foods.  We also eat for fun rather than necessity, which was the attitude to food then, particularly when there was a shortage during war time. 

So this is my goal.  To simplify our food, keep away from anything that comes in a box or packet with a huge list of weird ingredients, eat raw foods and not overeat.  Basically, not eating anything that my grandparents and great grandparents would look at and go "What the hell is that!?!"  If they wouldn't recognise it then don't eat it.  Simple.
A lot of our ancestors did manual work for a living, so that really helped burn up the energy, compared to many of us who are stuck behind a desk for a living.  They did also eat a bigger breakfast, so a cooked breakfast wasn't unusual at all.  I'm sure you've heard it before, make breakfast your main meal of the day.  It totally makes sense.  Even if it means getting up half an hour earlier, it will set you up for the day and you will be less likely to snack on rubbish.  You just won't feel like it.  My mother in-law, who is only in her 60s, said that she used to have steak for breakfast often.  She worked on a farm so needed her energy.  This completely makes well as sounds delicious!  So to kick start your metabolism, which will help you burn more energy (read fat here Amber!), as well as helping to keep your energy  levels up to get you through the day, start with a big breakfast.  Don't fear bacon and eggs either.  Nor butter.  Butter is actually better for you than you would think, particularly in it's raw state, as it's loaded with healthy fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.  It's easy to make your own apparently.  I'm giving it a go today!
Once we are on a farm full time I plan on having a house cow.  My husband grew up milking their house cow.  It certainly didn't have any ill effects.  Actually he went through his entire childhood never having had any antibiotics, only having them for the first time at the age of 22.  I also want to have chooks, so lots of fresh eggs, and most definitely a veggie garden, as well as fruit trees.  We, of course, will have the space, so for the moment I am planning on putting in a veggie patch out in the back garden.  If you can grow your own vegetables this is wonderful, because they will be minus all the nasty pesticides.  If you don't have a garden you can always grow things in pots.  Give it a go!  We are lucky that we have our own sheep, pigs and cattle, so I always have a freezer full of fresh meat that my husband has butchered himself.  None of our meat has any growth hormones in it and all the animals have been killed quickly and cleanly on the property, so there has been no stress which can effect the meat.
To help eat simply avoid any sort of fad diet.  Try not to get sucked in.  Just keep it basic.  Eat food that is food, not a food product.  You should be eating things like eggs, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, bread made of grains (obviously!), and things you have cooked or baked yourself using all raw ingredients.  If you find it confusing at all just think..."Has this food item been altered in any way, or is there any other ingredients in it?"  If the ingredients on the side read like a science experiment then don't put it in your mouth!!
Keep away from the bigger supermarket chains as much as you can.  I am opposed to the big supermarkets because they majorly rip the farmers off, and being a farmer I have these issues with them personally, but there is also another side of it.  Try and shop locally at small businesses to support your local community and also from Farmers Markets as much as you can.  You will pay a bit more but what you spend on quality food now you will save at the other end, where you are not having to spend big money on expensive medical treatment because of some horrible disease. 
You should also always eat what is in season too.  This means that you are eating fresh food, rather than something that has been stored for months.  Buying from Farmers Markets will mean you are getting seasonal produce.  If you shop at supermarkets then do some research and find out what fruits and vegetables are in season at whatever particular time of the year it is.  Eating what is in season will also mean that you are likely to be eating locally grown food, rather than things that have been imported.
Our bodies do need fats and sugars, apparently, so don't cut it out completely.  Just don't over indulge.  Baking is fine, actually it's way better than store bought biscuits and cakes that have other harmful ingredients in them.  It's also fun!  Our grandparents ate more of the 'whole' ate more organs and also used the bones to make broths or stock.  If you can do it, then you should. 
There is nothing wrong with having the old 'meat, potatoes and three veggies' meal, like our grandparents did.  You're getting your protein, fats and carbohydrates right there, as well as your fibre.  It's also a really easy meal, not to mention inexpensive.

So, my food goals are.....
* To eat home grown vegetables where possible (later stretching this to fruit once we have a farm)
* Buy local and fresh food, particularly from Farmers Markets
* Eat our home grown meat
* Make as much from scratch as possible (including butter, bread, ice cream, cakes, biscuits, pasta, pasta sauce, gravy, stock etc)
* Avoid processed food
* Eat a big breakfast (cooked whenever possible)
* Have our own chooks for eggs (once we have a farm)
Do you have any food goals?


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Vintage Birthday

It was my daughter's birthday yesterday.  She was two.  She has three older brothers, so needless to say she was ridiculously spoilt.  It is extremely difficult to not buy way too many presents and go to a huge amount of effort for one teeny tiny, but one very special little girl!

This was just one of the many...
This is a ballerina doll for her dolls house and the floral headband I got from the Australian Ballet when I went to see a performance of 'Cinderella' recently.  The headband was also bought along with a beautiful set of fairy wings, which she's not so impressed with at the moment...they seem to annoy her...but give it a couple of years and I probably won't be able to get them off her.
We had a little mini party for her, just me, my husband and the kids.  Tonight my parents are coming over for a slow-cooked roast pork that my husband is in charge of.  Mmmmm!  Last night we indulged in pasta from the local pizza/pasta place, who does the best Lime and Chilli Prawn Pasta ever, and I had made cupcakes for dessert.
I was pretty pleased with my efforts.  I was going for a pretty vintage look.  The cupcakes themselves are vanilla and were a mammoth effort in themselves, requiring a ridiculous amount of butter and 4 eggs, but they were totally worth it....not to mention the butter cream icing (where I had to sacrifice 200 grams of butter and 8 cups of icing sugar....YES....I said 8!!!)  They were delicious.  I cannot, however, take credit for making the decorations.  I'm not that clever.
She was a bit unsure at first, but soon warmed to the idea.  My husband had to give her a bit of a prompt to blow the candles out.....but....she got it in the end.....

I've done a bigger sponge cake for tonight, as well as a chocolate mousse, although I'm not sure we'll need it after the explosion of sugar that is going to come out of the cake.  It has cream AND jam in the middle and the same ludicrously sweet butter cream icing that basically blows the roof of your mouth off.  This is it...
My lack of decorating skills is really showing up here...but the kids won't care!
I'm looking forward to my parents coming over this evening.  It is nice to entertain.  We don't do it enough.  We must rectify this.  It's a much nicer thing to do than going out to restaurants or pubs.  My nightclubbing days are long over, not that I indulged much in that anyway, but having friends or family over is really special, even if you aren't celebrating anything in particular.  I love to cook for others, especially when they enjoy what I've made.  My husband has started taking charge of cooking the will pull out the slow cooker and do some amazing things.  He's especially liking this because we grow and butcher our own lamb, pork and beef, so he really takes pride in what he's serving up to people.
It's nice to keep things simple too.  When you produce your own food it really highlights how possible it is to slow down life a little.  I know not everyone is able to grow their own lamb (no room for sheep in a New York city apartment....funny about that....) but even having your own vegetable garden, or veggies or herbs grown in pots is a step in the right direction.
I did briefly think about having a party for my daughter...but then she's only two and didn't think it was worth the hassle nor the expense.  When she's older she'll appreciate it more (and remember it!)
Anyway, a very Happy Birthday to my little girl!  I'd better stop writing and start tidying up the parents will be here in three hours.....!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fashion Flip

How beautiful were the fashions of the 50s?  A time when women really cared about their appearance and put some effort into their outfit, even if they were just home looking after the kids or cleaning the kitchen.  Somewhere along the way this pride in our appearance has got a little lost.  I don't mean everyone here, although sometimes I wonder....especially when I saw that woman in the supermarket IN HER PYJAMAS!!!  What on earth was that!?!  Women who need to trot off to work everyday dress up...wear a skirt or tailored pants, and almost always wear makeup, but for the rest of us...those who are at home with the children and doing the cooking, cleaning and general running around... tend to fall off the clothing wagon and start wearing tatty jeans, tracksuit pants (sweat pants) and a sloppy jumper with food all down the front.  I am guilty of this..several of my pairs of jeans have holes in the knees, and my usual uniform of check shirt and cowgirl boots has got a little boring...not to mention unattractive.  Don't get me wrong, I still head out like this when the occasion calls for it, like last week I went out hunting a couple of times, and there is the horse riding and general sheep work at the farm that needs to be done...minus the kitten heels, but over the last couple of weeks I have done a 180 on the dressing front, and taken a leaf out of our 1950s sister's hand embroidered notebooks and started to doll up a bit.
Most days have seen me bravely wear a skirt...(I add the brave in here because we have been undergoing what the meteorologists are calling a weather 'vortex' and a super cold pocket of air has been drifting up from kidding!!)..and I've had very cold knees!  One thing I've also noticed, despite the cold tushy and finding the need to wear pantyhose, is that skirts are sooooo comfortable!  Who would have thunk it!  They also hold so much more of your ex-baby padding in and it is so much more flattering for a real female figure. 
I've noticed, in my usual travels, such as doing the food shop and running the kids around, that women just don't wear skirts nowadays.  I mean they're out there, but I seriously have seen hardly any.  I know it's not really happy skirt wearing weather, and perhaps I shall notice more in the spring and summer months, but it's quite an eye opener to see that so many women...stay at home mums in particular...just throw on a pair of daks and away they go.  This nonchalant form of dressing also applies to hair and makeup.  Mostly it's missing too.  Understandably women today are under a lot of pressure to be and do everything.  Have the career.  Be a mum.  Be a super wife....which all of this leaves little time to yourself to pay any attention to getting dressed in the morning.  It's a shame that mums just let themselves go, and whether it happens slowly (which is usually the case), most don't notice the change and then one day look in the mirror and think "where did I go?"  That snappy dresser and sassy woman... pre-husband and babies...has all but faded away.
For me I have realised that I just don't want to be all of it.  I don't want to try and do everything.  It's exhausting.  When you do try and take on a career, husband and kids you start to spread yourself too thin and this is not healthy.  Yes, I'm stepping back to be old fashioned but I am finding that I really like it.  It's so less stressful.
So...I am dressing up.  By this I don't mean silks and satins (how bizarre for the everyday!) but putting on a skirt and teaming it with a nice top.  I'm also doing something a little more interesting with my hair...which is a challenge because I'm terrible at doing hair...(something to work on)..and...shock horror (!)...I'm even putting makeup on.  A toned down version of a 1950s look, but makeup none the less.  I am also conscious of making an effort for my husband too.  When we stop caring about how we look it is like we aren't caring about what our partner thinks...that he should just settle for the frumpy bored housewife.  By looking nice I feel better about myself and he comes home to a wife in a good mood and in a pretty skirt or dress.  And I do know that he likes it....if the amount of times I've had my bottom pinched lately has anything to do with it! I am, updating my wardrobe a little..and having fun doing it (!)..having discovered lovely online shopping experiences such as ModCloth and Unique Vintage...both in the US..and also Wild Kitty Clothing in Australia.  The other day I had this arrive due to a bit of eBay shopping...
..and it's the most flattering little top.  I love the 3/4 sleeves.  I promptly went and ordered another one in white.  They weren't dear...eBay can be great like that...and it arrived within a few days.  I'm being selective about colours and things..making sure that everything matches so I have complete outfits, rather than just random clothes that I like, but don't go together. 
Wearing nice clothes like this makes me think of my Mum.  She always dresses nicely.  When I was little she always went up the street wearing a skirt or dress AND heels and full makeup.  That was just how she dressed.  Even now she's still full makeup, and although she doesn't wear skirts as much, she's always in tailored pants.  Actually it kind of freaks me out on the rare occasions she wears jeans, which you'd only ever see her wear around the garden at home.  She's the Audrey Hepburn of Gippsland!  There was something my older sister once said too, about women who went out in sloppy clothes.  It was a comment she made to my mum, about why would women bother going out looking like they've been dragged through a bush backwards when there are so many beautiful clothes to wear.  She's so right.  I have some lovely 'for best' clothes in my wardrobe, but because all I ever really do is the mundane day to day stuff, they never see the light of day.  Such a shame.  What you see in the photo above (the navy top and the red and blue skirt) is what I am wearing now typing this, and I am more comfortable than what I would be if I was in my normal jeans.  No restrictive waistband around my middle and the baby padding trying to escape the confines of my shirt.  All good!

I have also started dressing my little girl up more too.  She has lots of summer dresses, which with a long sleeve top underneath, can be worn throughout the colder days.  Yesterday she went out looking super sweet in a pale blue, pink and white dress with a little pale pink cardigan and tights, and she looked adorable.  While I'm still in control of her wardrobe, (I'm going to make the most of it!) I will have her looking pretty and girly and enjoying being able to look this way.
I will not, however, do this to her...
..and make her wear an outfit to match mine!  I remember being dressed up in matching clothes as my older sister (same dress different colour) and even as a child it made me squirm!

What is your usual daily dressing style?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Audrey and Retro Baking

I got some gorgeous new books today.  It was raining again, the cold front is still wagging it's tail, and I don't know about you but it makes me want to buy books.  I had to drop a cheque into the bank and as the book store is two shops down I found myself wandering in.

In keeping with my new desire to get baking I perused the cook book aisle and found this...
How perfect it is to fit with my new 1950s lifestyle!  Cook books are now so much more than pages of recipes.  They are a real visual feast as well.  See...
...and they give you so much more than lists of ingredients and methods.  They bring you so much joy and wisdom.
I have decided that I am going to bake my way through it and try and bring you something new each week.  Starting with these....
I also found a fabulous book about living with grace and style and thought it would be illuminating to read!
'What Would Audrey Do? - Timeless Lessons for Living with Grace and Style', by Pamela Keogh.  I'll let you know how it goes.
If you are interested in what I wore today, this was my 1950s inspired outfit...
This skirt was $3 at the charity store by the way!
I know...I have teeny tiny feet.  But how cute are these shoes!?!