Saturday, January 28, 2012

Reorganising the Girl's Bathroom

As with many homes these days we parents have an ensuite therefore leaving the main bathrooms for the kids. In our house the main bathroom, is very "girl orientated" with lots of girly stuff in the cupboards and drawers.

As it wasn't going to be a huge or expensive job I decided that the main bathroom would be my first "decluttering" project of 2012. Sadly I forgot the "before" pics but imagine everything simply shoved into a cupboard and hair ties, etc everywhere and you'll just about have it right!

The master bathroom has a big vanity, with double sinks, 2 sets of cupboards and a middle drawer with three internal drawers. It's funny when I was growing up I think we shared 1 cupboard between five of us and seemed to manage.

I purchased these little white baskets from the supermarket and they fit inside the top drawer perfectly.

Also these little plastic containers were from the supermarket so I used them in the second drawer to separate their clips, ties, etc (of which they have far too many).

The large bottom drawer has a couple of fabric holders from the two dollar shop to hold their fabric headbands and brushes in. The plastic and metal headbands are on the bench top sitting around some old baby milk powder tins (Milo tins work too). I did try covering the tins in adhesive book covering but they wrinkled and do not look so good. So I will be removing the plastic covering and spray painting them.  The headbands sit around the tins perfectly and you can remove the lid and pop the fabric headbands inside them!

I purchased a couple of large white baskets from the supermarket to go into their cupboards. One holds their various hair products, bubble baths, creams and lotions etc. Another little tray holds smaller items, like nail polish and play cosmetics. I did throw many  items out that were expired or nearly empty and anything that was really not of any use. I was rash and don't feel any guilt!

The other cupboard holds their personal towels, facecloths and bathmats and does usually look like this so there wasn't much to do to this one except give the shelves a wipe down.

It did not take me long to do this and cost around $20 for all the baskets for things to go into. I am really happy with my first decluttered room and can't wait to start on the next one ... which may be the laundry?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Going to Fiji with Imagination Airlines

Today the girls decided they were going to fly to Fiji.

They made their own passports and I just love the pictures they drew of themselves.

With a little help from The Mama and this site we produced some very realistic looking airline tickets.

Whilst the girls were out in the lounge setting up their plane, I made them some airline safety cards as a surprise. It was rather hard trying to find them online you know but some nerds people actually collect them as a hobby so I simply printed a copy of someones collection. Seriously this person had so many he had them alphabetised by airline!

Here's them on their plane. You can tell they are seasoned flyer's,
note the luggage stored under the seat in front of them.

The girls landed in Fiji and were met by someone with their lunch. After lunch they decided to head outside to play in the lovely warm "Fijian" sun and guess who was left to clean up! Actually they did offer, but as it had been raining on and off all day I sent them out to get some sun whilst it the sky was clear. You get that in the tropics ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Veggie Delight

Those of you who know me well know how much I LOVE meat. In fact I could easily live on dairy and meat! Well I have been trying for a while now to have a meatless night ... not easy for me I tell you!

Anyway this is one our whole families easiest and yummiest veggie dish. Basically you use whatever veggie you have in the crisper or pantry.

Firstly simply cut up some hard root vegetables like potato, kumara (sweet potato), parsnip, swede, beetroot, etc into cube sizes and throw them in a baking dish and drizzle some oil across them. Then cook them for about 20-30 mins on a medium heat. If adding pumpkin I wouldn't add it too early as it can go to mush, so maybe add it to the dish about 10 mins into cooking the root veggies.

Then to that add some further veggies like sliced courgette (zucchini), beans, match stick carrots, asparagus spears cut into about 1/3's, quartered mushrooms, capsicum and mix well so that the oil coats them too. You may need to add extra oil but only if necessary. By cutting up these veggies different ways you add a really interesting look to the dish.

Then bake for another 10 -20mins. I also add broccoli and cauli to my mix. It's a bit of a hit and mix thing with those veggies, so you may even want to microwave or steam them before adding them just for the last 10 mins.

Whilst they are baking I make a simple Aoili Sauce. Store bought is fine, I just find it very expensive and our version serves us well.  To about a cup of  egg mayonnaise, I add 1 tsp minced garlic, juice of 1/2 a small lemon, ground salt and pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil. You want it to pour a little but not be too runny.

Serve the veggie delight in a bowl with some aoili drizzled over it and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Red Tent - Book Review

How good is it, when you read a novel that is so well written that it exceeds your expectations of it.

Anita Diamont writes in such a way that not only can you visualise the shepherd's, midwives, slaves, caravans, etc. but at times I could almost smell them. Anita is just an amazing and almost poetic storyteller.

The Red Tent is a fictional story based on Jacob's daughter and Joseph's sister, Dinah from the Bible. The first part of the book begins Dinah telling the story of her mother and aunts and then moves onto her own life as a hard-working, woman and midwife. I am not going to spoil the plot by saying any more ... just read it!

I must thank my "Jewel" of a cousin who recommended this too me. The only sad thing is, it is going to be a hard task to find anything else that I will enjoy as much this year. I just may end up having to reread it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Getting the girls organised ...

I found last year that each morning I was forever asking my girls if they have brushed their teeth, their hair, made their beds etc. before we got on with schooling. And most of the time they hadn't. I think they thought where's the rush, it's not like they had to get ready to head off to school. They do know they have to be at the school table dressed though. Then again in the evening, same thing, I had to remind them to do what I would call basic things, plus clean up the mess they had made that day.

This year in order to save me from being a nag I came up with a Task Sheet. This includes some chores that they are expected to perform in order to earn their pocket money, such as unloading the dishwasher, putting out the rubbish and recycling daily, and so on. Also as the girls are getting older we felt that they could be a little more responsible and helpful. So this year they are supposed to vacuum, dust their rooms, change their linen and tidy their bathroom etc. They only have to do one thing a day and to be honest I am helping them a bit in order to teach them. We have had a couple of funnies trying to find Agent Smelly lost in her duvet (doonah) cover whilst trying to replace the clean one over the duvet. 

Front of Task Sheet

Back of Task Sheet

Both girls have different sheets and tasks, and in some cases if there's an X on one sheet then the other often has to do it and vice versa. Or they simply may have to do that task maybe once or twice a week or such. They go into the Personal Planners that they designed and that we made up and they simply tick them off as they go. So far they have been going really well with them. I think they just enjoy ticking off things as they go along.

We are still nutting the tasks out and seeing how long the chores take etc as I don't want to make them do "hard labour" just a quick clean. and learn to be helpful and tidy and clean!

Planners - they also have calenders and blank pages for notes and such in them

In case anyone is wondering the weekly allowance each girl receives is based on her age. i.e. Miss 7 gets $3.50 and Miss 9 gets $4.50. They seem happy with that and the only way they don't get their full allowance is if they do not complete the chores assigned to them (unless they are sick, or they didn't complete because of circumstance beyond their control). I do not take money away for bad or rude behaviour. To my way of thinking if they have completed a job then they should get paid for it. They have other punishments, IE loss of a favoured toy or activity for unacceptable behaviour.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012 ; Our year of Organising and Decluttering Our Lives..

I realised last year that we have a LOT of unnecessary things in our house. Due to  homeschooling and the children's various activities and The Pig's shift work we really never seem to get on top of things.

Because of this a lot of the time we throw things into boxes (outgrown clothes, children's toys etc) and into the garage to be dealt with later ... and guess what ... later never seems to arrive does it!

So my New Years Resolution for 2012 is to clear out the things we don't need or use. No more just in case and no more out of sight, our of mind. This year this household will be making a conscious effort to declutter and place some organisation into our home ... wish me luck!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kelly Tarltons Underwater World and Antarctic Adventure

Today we went to Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Adventure and Underwater World with our guests from Melbourne, Aunty D and Uncle B.Kelly

On the Snow Trac

We visited "Scotts Hut" a replica of the original in Antarctica.

Stingrays as long as 2 metres greeted us in Stingray Bay.

They have females only as they are prolific breeders!

We got to see the keeper feed the stingrays - that was way cool!

We encountered New Zealand's largest sub-antarctic penguin colony. There are over 80 King & Gentoo adult & baby penguins! You sit in these little enclosed snowcats that take you around the exhibit. On our first trip around we actually saw the penguins being hand fed which was pretty amazing. Then we took photos (without the flash is the only rule!) later on our second trip and then the girls went around again without us. The Fashionista actually videoed the penguins on that trip around. They were rather besotted with the little guys.

You walk through the tanks that hold over 100 million litres of water with over 2000 fish, which included SHARKS!  The turtles are temporarily being homed in some of these tanks.

We got to explore the brand new adventure, Seahorse Kingdom. Little displays were filled with magnificent seahorses from around the world and one featured the world’s only Spiny Sea Dragon’s (above) on public display.

There were a wonder of beautiful fish to see. Yes we did see Nemo and Dori ... ;)

I just loved this aquarium with the Lego's set up in it. Note the fish in the craft on the far left.

I also found the aquarium with some shark eggs positively amazing. You could actually see through them and see the baby (babies moving ... mind blowing!

We also saw a tank full of eels and a tank full of the biggest crayfish!

The eight legged octopus waved us goodbye!

Enchilada Rice

Tonight I made Enchilada Rice for the first time. Unfortunately because any Mexican recipes I use are generally from Mexico or the US, I tend to have to make changes to the recipes as we don't have access to some of the ingredients they use over there and also The Pig really doesn't like his food too spicy.

The girls and The Pig enjoyed it as much as Grandma, who is in her 80's, did. I was really pleased with the result myself and everyone is keen to add it to the monthly menu.

Enchilada Rice

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 500 gms beef mince (although you could use chicken)
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed equates to about 250g gms beans
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce (I actually made from scratch the day before)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup grated cheese


In a large frying pan brown the mince. Drain off any grease if there is any and return to pan.

Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, and cook on medium low until heated through.

Stir in cheese and serve with corn chips, salad and even a dollop of sour cream if you have any.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Prima Latina

I just love ordering new homeschooling curriculum and today our Latin program arrived, so I was very excited pulling all the program out.

It is called Prima Latina (by Modern Curriculum) and is aimed at Grades 1 - 4.  It is a Christian based Latin program.

The Fashionista (9) will be starting the program this semester and after I have had a good look at it I will decide whether to do it with Agent Smelly (7).

There are 25 lessons and apparently you work on it for about 10 minutes a day, so can be finished in a year. Apparently it is written in such a way that you can longer and do the program over 2 years, it is all dependent on how well your child is moving through the program. I am assured that it has been written for non-Latin educated people, to use to teach, so here's hoping it will go well.

You may wonder why I am teaching the girls Latin. There are a few reasons. One it will help them with their grammar and despite today's education system I feel that grammar is important. The girls are also really fascinated by foreign languages and I think Latin would be a great background language for them to help them with some of the romantic language's that they are and wanting to learn. Lastly Latin is called for in some University courses and I have read and heard that those that have an early background in Latin really sail through the courses and those that don't really struggle that first year.

Only time will tell I suppose ...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Crazy Carrots

Carrots have been a little over-priced here lately and really not that good a quality. Well the other day on our way home late from the movies I saw a sign at a road-side vegie shop advertising 10 kilos of carrots for $7.99.

Well I thought that was such a bargain that I asked The Pig to grab me a bag the next day on his way home from work.

What on earth was I thinking ... 20 kilo's ... that's nearly 45 pounds of big orange carrots, to my US friends.  Around 10 am I started and at about 1pm I wasn't even halfway through peeling, cutting and blanching them.

Maybe 8 kilos of carrots ... ahhhhh, not even half-way there!

I soldiered on and in the end probably froze about 17 kilos of them. 1 kilo went down to my mother-in-laws and of course some went into the fridge for later use.

My hands ended up orange, and my nails are still so terribly stained. Even my feet hurt from standing in the kitchen all day. The only time I stopped was to make lunch for the kids!

I have given The Pig permission to tell me what a plonker I am if I ever suggest doing that many again. On the plus side we do now have prepared carrots for quite a while. On the down side I never really want to see a carrot ever again!!!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Home Sweet Home

The Fashionista was looking for something to do, so I suggested she make something for the wall of her cubby house.

We found a piece of wood in one of craft boxes, (that I had bought some time ago to do something with, that I obviously didn't ever get around to) and she painted it white.

She had me sketch Home Sweet Home and some flowers onto it with a pencil, and then she sat quietly and painted it for the next hour or so. She didn't have any help from me with her colour choices etc.; I was simply the sketcher.

Here is the finished product proudly displayed in the club house.

Daddy has the job of putting a hook on the back and hanging it up. Currently it's rolling on the shelf across the club house wall.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Is there a Doctor in the House?

There is nothing more that my daughters enjoy than dressing up. We have accumulated quite a few costumes over the years and we don't restrict ourselves to "girly" stuff either. Along with a Japanese and swiss costume, cat, lady bug, beetle, pig costume, they have a cowboy costume, along with Superman and Spiderman.

It is a really good activity for children as they make their own plays and it is stretches their imagination. Also in mixed age groups everyone still seems to be able to play along. Role playing comes naturally to children and therefore it is great to fill the dress up box with normal, positive and inspirational costumes, along with those princess, faeries, etc.

Yesterday we picked up a surgeons / doctors outfit from one of those shops like the $2 shop.

The Fashionista in her new scrubs.

Agent Smelly is the receptionist / nurse.
The Dr. had to place a bandaid on her nose as there was the tiniest of scratches.
Note the lolly pops given to the "good" children (dolls) after their appointment.

They turned their club house into a doctors / hospital.

Often The Pig or I get called into one of the roles (when we aren't being made to sit and watch one of their performances) and today was no exception. I was given a "physical" by my doctor and nurse with them using all their little plastic doctor tools on me. Their stethoscopes are in fact real and they loved listening to my heart and then "yelling into each others". I even let them place some of my eye drops into my eyes, which they found totally fascinating (and helped my tired dry eyes). There were many giggles especially when they kept taking turns hitting my knees with their hammers, which despite being made of plastic actually hurt ... apparently my cries of "ouch" are giggle-worthy and mean hit even harder next time!

At the end I was given a prescription that reads as follows:
cold cream medison (what can I say, they have a bad spelling teacher)
Pretty good but come back next week for an eye check
Okay     The Doctor

I had to see the nurse on the way out and produce a "card" to pay for my appointment (she actually pretended to swipe  piece of cardboard on an invisible swiper) and then was booked in for my next appointment as per Dr's orders.  Between us though, I am not sure that I will return for next weeks check up as I didn't get a lolly pop after my appointment!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sweeeeeet ... potato that is

Due to all the public holidays and hence some food getting close to it's use by dates there have been a lot of fruit and vegie bargains. I recently picked up 6 x 1kg bags of kumara (sweet potato) for just 67 cents a bag.

Kumara can be frozen if you blanch it. So I cut up about 3 kgs into roast size pieces and blanched them for 10-12mins. This filled 2 very large zip lock bags.

I also cut another kilo into chips which I blanched for 5 mins and then froze them in a large zip lock bag also.

I also plan to make our niece's Kumara and Bacon Salad this weekend which is simply delicious. Hopefully I will remember to take some photos and post the recipe once I have made it.

So I am set for kumara for a while now ... hhhmmm, what shall I freeze, can or dry next?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ponies, a little girls passion

Both my girls have been riding horses since they were small. They absolutely adore horses and yes, we have agreed to get them a pony each once we have stables, a horse trailer, etc. We aren't leading them up the garden path, these are things we do intend to get one day. Animals are a beautiful thing to have in your life and both girls have been obsessed with ponies since The Fashionista was around four years old.  They usually have a lesson one afternoon every fortnight, it is sort one of their homeschooling sports if you like.

For the past couple of years our girls have been attending lessons with Meret. Meret is a grandmother originally from Switzerland who runs her own farm and has been around horses forever. She is a slight, small woman who has so much energy and drive that she makes me feel very lazy in comparison. Meret has a number of ponies so the girls do get to ride different mounts every so often.

Well today for the first time the girls met her at the Tuakau Pony Club, instead of the farm, for their lesson as she was going on a trail ride afterwards with the group and her grandchildren. Both my girls were "uber" excited at being at the Pony Club and had a really enjoyable lesson.

The Fashionista on "Allada", a flea-bitten grey

Agent Smelly on "Spirit" ; she is such a cute little pony

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Drying Flowers

Agent Smelly's NZ Grandma gave her a flower pressing kit for Christmas.

I just realised I hadn't picture of her with it and this is the pose I got!
Reminder to self to not to take pictures of cheeky little monkeys at bed time!

It is quite a simple apparatus. you simply unscrew the wing (butterfly) nuts and place the flowers between the tissue paper which sits between cardboard. There are a number of pieces of cardboard so you can make a few layers of flowers. You then screw the nuts back down as tightly as possible and set it aside for ten to fourteen days.  An excellent exercise in patience!

To Agent Smelly's credit she did wait and didn't keep opening it up ... she did once but we agreed it would be a good opportunity to see what happens after a few days.

These are the finished flowers. AS is still playing around with them trying to get a design that she likes best. Once she does I thought I'd pop it through the laminator.

This is a great craft for AS as she simply LOVES picking flowers and she really gets a little impatient with some of the crafts like knitting, crochet, etc. We now just have to get moving planting some more flowers for her ... or keep raiding Grannie's garden.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Mama's First Card Making Class

Tonight I attended my very first card making class at the local Presbyterian Church hall and oh did I love it ... a lot!

You simply turn up, pay $5 and get shown how to make a couple of cards. The cards are a little like scrap booking which I have done in the past. I love the fact that this is so quick and you end up with a finished project very quickly, which is usable!

My first card ... I just love it!

A close up of my pansy.

For the second card, they showed us a completed one, then gave us all the materials that they used, showed us the techniques on how to achieve them and then it was up to us to put it together however we wished to. We could leave off things, or even add them.

Here's my second card.
I think it would be lovely attached to a hamper as a gift card, it's very rustic.
There is a class held in town once a month, so I am hoping to get to the next one.
The only problem that I can see, is me wanting to purchase every little stamp and cutter that I come across to continue making them at home ... I feel like a kid in a candy store.
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