Friday, December 31, 2010

Today we will mostly be eating ....

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Figs from our neighbours tree and peaches from our own.

2011 Goal 3 - General

Finally (and this is a big one for me) my general life goal of 2011.  Most of my ideas that didn't sit in either of the two previous areas were too small to become measurable or are dependent on things outside my control to come to fruition.  So I decided to lump most of my small goals under one heading and work towards them slowly and be degrees.  This goal is not attainable in 2011 as it is more of a long term goal but at least part of it is attainable.

So my General Goal is:

To live a more simple and frugal life.

Not very specific at all is it.  So I have some supporting goals which I am going to mention here (and a lot more that I will hold over to another year)

1) Limit Technology - I spend far too much time on the internet (browsing forums, facebook - the biggest time waster on the planet and playing games) and watching TV (I often find myself channel hopping because I can't think of anything else to do but there is nothing on I want to watch) so I am limiting both.  I currently do one or the other (or both) every day and I plan to reduce that to 4 days in 7.  So on 3 days/evenings I will have no internet or TV.  More time to sew, knit and read.

2) To Budget - To set a budget with a strict savings policy.  To buy second hand where possible.  To buy food in bulk and utilise various methods to preserve it for the rest of the year (this crosses over into my next supporting goal).  To save up for 'big ticket' items such as our new kitchen and bathroom.

3) Food - To grow as much of our vegetables and fruit as possible.  To buy in season and in bulk utilising R work suppliers where possible.  To eat less processed foods and less sugar.  To plan menus and eat with Jot.  To prepare meals in advance and freeze.  To create a 'recipe folder' of healthy recipes that can be used to plan menus.

As it is tough to set most of these into a time frame as life is ongoing I am going to give each of the three supporting goals a timeframe of 6 months and review my progress (or lack thereof) at the end of June 2011.

In wrapping up my three (well five really) 2011 goals I wish you luck in setting and attaining yours in 2011.

Happy New Year.

Jots Mum

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Goal 2 - Me

I struggled to narrow this group down to one goal as I had loads of ideas and things I want to do for my 'development' doing things I love.  After much consideration I decided to focus on expanding my skills in my newest hobby - Quilting.  So my 'Me' goal for 2011 is:

To complete (piece, sash, quilt and bind) a 9 block sampler quilt


I was hoping to do this as part of a class but I don't think we can fit one in in 2011 so instead I am setting it as a challenge to myself.  To make it 'SMART' I am going to do it as a Block a Month from Jan to Sept with the remaining months for the sashing, backing, quilting and binding with the goal to have it completed in time for NYE 2011.

I think this will be a great way for me to develop my piecing and quilting knowledge and combined with the MMQG Quilting Bee I think I will end 2011 with more knowledge and confidence in this very satisfying art.

I am thinking about opening this up as a quilt-a-long challenge to anyone out there so if you are interested leave a comment and I will figure out how it is going to work.  It will be a fairly simple BOM as my skills are fairly limited at the moment but I hope to choose more complicated blocks towards the end of the quilt a long.

2011 Goal 1 - Family

I have used this goal to cover my extended family as I have been toying with this idea for the last couple of years.

My family Goal is:

To Hand make all Birthday and Christmas presents for all extended family in 2011 (this will include any special occasions that crop up births, marriages and the like).

So to make it Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely (SMART) I have decided to allocate 1 or 2 members of my family to focus on each month.  The month in brackets is their birthday month.

Jan - SIL (Mar)
Feb - BIL1 & Dad (June)
Mar - Big Sis & Niece (July)
Apr - BIL2 & FIL (Aug)
May -  R (Aug)
June -  MIL & Mum (Sept)
July -  Jot (Sept)
Aug  - Lil Sis & BIL3 (Nov)
Sept  - Nephew 1 (Nov)
Oct - Nephew 2 (Jan)
Nov & Dec - Xmas stocking fillers and Kris Kringle as well as CC gifts etc.

So my goal is to make 2 gifts for each person in their month.  One gift will be for their birthday and the other for Christmas.

The calendar above will be incorporated into my side bar once I have written up my Me goal (which is also split by month) and had a look at what extra quilts I want to make this year so I can allocate them as well.  I will then recap at the start of each month what my goals are and at the end of each month see how well I have done.  (It will also be pinned above my sewing machine so I don't get sidetracked which is far to easy these days)

So heres to a very productive 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Day

We had a great day and Jot started the day perfectly by sleeping in till 7:30am so we all rose together well rested and ready for a busy yet calm day.
We first had to see if Santa had been.  As Jot is terrified of Santa it took a little coaxing to get her to go near the suddenly full stocking and tree surrounded by presents.  But she soon got the hang of it.
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We managed to distract her from the main presents until after Church (and her nap as she fell asleep on the way back from church) by making a big fuss of breakfast and showers and getting ready.
After Church we nipped into town to view the Myer windows.  I think Christmas day is the best day to go, yes there are not ropes to herd the crowds but then there are hardly any crowds either (and for future reference there are ice cream vans.)  Jot got to see all the windows by sitting on R shoulders, I think they were better this year than last (but that's because I feel the Nutcracker is a more Christmassy theme that Olivia the Pig).
We even managed to get our annual family picture taken before she got into the presents (you can see by her face we are pushing our luck here)
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After presents we left Jot to entertain herself (not hard considering all her new toys) and got our Christmas meal ready.
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My first attempt at Baked Ham (and yes it is huge for just the three of us and we will be eating it for weeks) but I am really happy with how it turned out and can see it becoming a bit of a Christmas tradition (I never did like Turkey much and Goose is too expensive over here).  We followed it with a Summer Pudding which as you can see was demolished before I could get the camera out.
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Jot was in bed as normal by 7pm which was great as R and I got to chat (it seems to be a rarity in this house with his new job).
So another Christmas over (is it right to heave a sigh of relief) and I wonder if I dare consider the next one yet or put it off and off and off till 1 Dec 2011.
I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday (regardless of your religion) and taking the opportunity to unwind and recharge ready for the year ahead.
Take care
Jots Mum

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More on goals

I thought I would let you in on some of my thinking regarding my 2011 goals.  I have been brainstorming this week (well where possible as Jot is quite busy at the moment) and have thrown literally hundreds of goals down on paper.  Most of them are probably going to end up as the smaller parts of a bigger goal.

If found I was not able to stay focused and all sorts of goals were popping out, the weight one, the work one, the pie in the sky one, the child one, the life one and they are all getting muddled up and confused.  So more work is needed and I think I am going to limit myself to Three major goals this year each backed by a number of smaller time linked goals.  Each of my Three goals will have a 12 month time frame with the smaller ones that work towards the larger one having much shorter timeframes.  Sort of stepping stones if you will.

I have decided that my three major goals need to be  in different areas of my life. 

ME - this one will be about developing myself as a person through something I enjoy doing and has been the easiest to decide on and easiest to figure out the mini goals for.

FAMILY - this one is rather dependent on others as well as myself so figuring out the mini goals is proving tough but I am getting there.

GENERAL - this one I only have the bare bones for so far as it is by far the largest this year and the mini goals could go on for ever as I get carried away so I will par it back quite tight and maybe use it again in 2012 for the remaining mini goals.

I am feeling really positive about this process this year as I have taken the opportunity to really think about my life and how I would like to change it.  All the ideas that flowed out through my brainstorm were fascinating and a lot were longer term goals that I don't have the time or the mental and emotional capacity for at this point in my life.

The way I am going I may even be able to post my 2011 goals before January but I don't think I will hold my breath as today is my last day at work for the year and I know how busy life gets at home when there is no work to break up the chaos.

I will be back over the next few days with details of our Christmas preparations as well as the last of my Christmas sewing.  I am determined to complete a dress for myself in time to wear on Christmas day as long as the weather cheers up a bit.

Take care

Jots Mum

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gifts

One of my friends became a grandmother last week.  Welcome baby Grace.  I really wanted to make Grace a quilt but as I have never met her mother or father I thought it might be a bit odd so instead I made something for Graces parents to use.

One of the things we ended up buying (while J was still in disposable nappies) was a nappy wallet.  A small folder that had room for a set of wipes and a few nappies.  It got a lot of use for the first 8 months and then got sidelined by the cloth nappies it has however resurfaced for all our travelling this year and once again has proved a lifesaver on many occasions.

So I decided to make one for Graces parents.  I found just the right material in my stash and got up the courage to cut into it - my only piece of Farmers Market by Sandi Henderson - and here it is:

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I have to say I really really like it and I hope it gets some use.

I have also been busy making gifts for Jots carers at childcare.  Last year I didn't know any of them very well so they just got a box of cherries to chare but this year Jot has been in the same room for nine months so I know them all a bit better.

I decided to make some little zip pouches for the three assistants and a bag for the room leader but really couldn't find a material I likes (I was being very particular) then while look through my stash in a panic as I realised that the room leader would not be around next week I stumbled across a couple of Ikea tea towels which are lovely and turned them into these:

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I also really wanted to get Jot involved so decided to bake some Snowballs for them as well.  They are meant to look like this:

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Any ours looked like this:

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They are yummy though so I just dusted them with icing sugar and called the Hazelnut Crisps instead. 

They went down a treat on Friday so I can now relax and get on with some holiday clothes sewing for both Jot and myself.

Have a good week

Jots Mum

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

S.M.A.R.T Goals

So returning to my theme of a few days ago I a little closer to setting my 2011 goals.

At work we are required to set goals each year and this year we were informed all out goals had to be SMART goals. SMART stands for:

Specific - A general goal would be, "Get in shape." But a specific goal would say, "Join a health club and workout 3 days a week."

Measurable - Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward each goal you set.

Attainable - Plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps

Realistic - To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work.

Timely - A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there's no sense of urgency

So I am using this system to set my 2011 Personal Goals. It may take some time to get them right so I will post my 2011 goals at the start of January (unless the are finalised earlier). For each Goal I will have a set of mini goals and a timeframe. I might even make a couple into challenges for the year that you can join me in.

JotsMum

Monday, December 13, 2010

I have been creating

Before I show you what I have been up to I need to send out another Thank you to Nic who sent this lovely doll to Jot as part of my Secret Santa
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She has been virtually everywhere with Jot today and in fact we nearly lost her at in the pond at Church.  Luckily a friend has very quick reflexes and saved the baby doll (Jot on the other hand got a little wet :) )
Now on to my creating.
Jot and I were invited to a 40th birthday yesterday and I realised on Friday night that Jot didn't have a clean party dress that fits her so I grabbed a new pattern to me (The Molly Peasant from Sis Boom) on Saturday morning and started sewing. I cut it out in the morning, put the bodice together while Jot was napping and finished it off once she was in bed.  All in it took about 3 hours to make from printing the pattern to ready to wear.  So simple and easy and I have already bought the adult version for myself.  She wore it today and it was great. 
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The weather on the other hand wasn't good so she spent most of the day with a pair of leggings and a fleece in addition to the dress
The fabric is a voile I picked up from Spotlight on sale a couple of weeks ago for $4pm and it took just short of a metre to make the dress (but I fussy cut to make the skirt all the main pattern).  So the dress cost me (in materials) about $5 to make - bargin.
I have finished a quilt - but I am soo excited about that and it is getting its own post later in the week once I have been able to get good photos of it. 
And my last creation is my birthday cake.  We have a birthday tea at work each month and as my birthday falls in December I decided to take my cake in to work today.  I try to not go too traditional each year.  This year I am trying a new recipe for me a Lemon Sour Cream Cake.  I even enticed a non cake eater into trying it (and he went back fro seconds) so I am happy with the result.  It is kind of like a Madeira cake and very yummy.
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So on that note I am off to eat cake and will wish you a good week ahead.
Jotsmum

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas time

Ok so I am starting to feel a bit Christmassy.  It always takes me forever to get into the spirit of Christmas but yesterday we did lots of Christmas stuff (mainly to keep Jot amused and not whining).

Firstly we attempted a visit to Santa.  I think I will forgo the one at her childcare on Wednesday as she screamed.  She even screamed when I put on the Santa hat at home later on.  Obviously not ready to enjoy that part of Christmas.

Then we came home and decorated the tree.  We usually do this en famille but with R working long hours at the moment I decided that he wouldn't mind missing it for one year.

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Please ignore the empty bookshelf behind it (yes we have been in the house for nearly a year and no we are still not unpacked)

After a nap (for Jot not me) we had a go at decorating the Gingerbread house kit we purchases at K-mart a few weeks ago.  This is the start of a long tradition I think as we both had a lot of fun and I swear Jot ate more lollies than made it onto the house.

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Today at Church (and this might have been what has made me feel more like Christmas) they sang 'O Come all ye faithful' with the descant and made me wonder who if anyone is attempting it back home as my sisters and I are not there this year.

Amazing!

I still have more stuff to show off so I will be back tomorrow but I hope you all have a great Sunday evening.

Jotsmum

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Its like buses

You wait ages for one and then three come along at once.  That is how I am feeling at the moment.  I have had nothing (or very little) to post about for so long and today I have loads so I think I will split it up over a couple of days so you don't get sick of me.

I am lucky enough to be part of a great online bunch of girls who are known on EB as the newbie quilters and we ran a secret Santa this year.  I have been truly spoilt by my ss who I swear must be able to read minds.

I received this package on Monday (or was it Tuesday) from the lovely Nic

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We had been waiting till everyone received their package before opening so it has been sat unopened on my desk for the last 5 days.  Today I broke (but I don't feel too bad as others broke before me) and opened it.

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I received loads. A recipe Journal (I will use this as I need a way to keep them organised), a clever little folder to carry sewing related stuff (which will be perfect for my MMQG meetings) and a pouch full of goodies (three bias makers, one magnetic guide, 5 freddo frogs (down to 4 already) and some really cute Heart pins).  The pouch is currently home to the lovely folder which contained some hand quilting needles (I wonder if that is a hint to try something new :) )

Thank you Nic.  It is all great and I will get a lot of use out of it all.

Nic even threw in a little something for Jot but she is tucked up in bed so the contents of that will need to wait for another day.

I sent to Belinda but I am not sure if she has opened yet so I will wait till I know before I post pictures of what I made for her.

Take care

JotsMum

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What a difference a day makes

I woke this morning with the start of a migraine so I did the only thing I could do.  I rang in sick, lined up R to do the childcare run, took the strongest migraine medication I have and went back to bed.

Four house later I woke up feeling a hundred times better but still not great so decided I couldn't face the computer but could face the sewing machine.  Until I walked into the sewing room/playroom and saw this:

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What a mess!  My beautiful daughter is a home wrecker! (ok so the mess on the sewing table is mine but the rest was created by my whirlwind)

So two hours later after much cleaning, tidying, sorting, sifting and chucking it looked like this:

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Much more conducive to a little creative time.

I sat down to my sewing machine and have knocked another two Christmas presents off my list which means there is another parcel waiting to be sent and I am down to one (but I am not happy with it and trying to decide if I dismantle it and start again or finish it and send it as is).

I also took the opportunity of being Jot free to put the binding on her quilt (that I was planning to give her last Christmas) so now I just need to hand sew it down.  Wonder if I can finish it off in time for this Christmas.

After all that though I am exhausted (and think I may have pushed it too far) so going to take another pill and nip to bed for a bit before R and Jot return this evening.

Take care

Jotsmum

Monday, December 6, 2010

2010 Goals - Review

It is that time of year again for me when I review the past year and set goals for the next.
 
Way back in January I set my 2010 goals and well see for yourselves how I did:

Me Time
12 sewing challenges in 12 months – 1 of 12 complete
12 knitting challenges in 12 months – not started

Home
Create a family organiser (and Christmas organiser) – started but never finished
Set a budget and stick to it – Ongoing work but mostly finished and in use

Family
Do Watch wait and wonder with Jot three times a week – not done
Have a monthly date night with R – I should be so lucky

As you can see I really didn’t do too well.

2011 needs a different approach I feel.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

EB Secret Santa Sneak Peak

Here is a sneak peak of for my EB Newbie Quilters Secret Santa.



I hope she likes it.

Better late than never :)

OK so here are the photos of the objects I got completed while we were internetless.

A summer top for Jot - she did not want to pose for me. 

 A crayon roll for Jots friends birthday

My November MMQG Quilt Bee Block for Gina

I am working on my Christmas present list but am getting nowhere fast.

Only 1 month to go and I have to send the overseas gifts off this week - they aren't ready.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Life without the internet

It has been peaceful here recently and I now really realise how much of a time waster the internet is. Seriously I had so much time to read and sew etc etc etc. I think if we didn't have the internet for Skype I would be tempted to do away with it completely - doubt R would let me though.

In the last couple of weeks I have made:
1 summer top for Jot (that is too short so I might gift it)
1 pair of denim pants for Jot
2 skirts (1 for Jot and 1 for A)
1 crayon roll
and I quilted Jots quilt (pictures will follow when I have added the binding)

I have also been teaching Jot how to thread beads. Everytime I go near my sewing machine she follows me saying "sew, sew, sew" so I thought it time to introduce her to a needle and thread. She is only two so I tried lacing cards (she doesn't really like them) and then stumbled across the big wooden beads at Spotlight and decided that they would do (she has only tried to eat them once). She is getting really good now and is quite happy to thread beads while I am sewing on the machine. At the end she has something to wear for the rest of the day (and once she has gone to bed I cut the thread and replace all the beads in the jar for another day.

In addition we had to transition Jot to a 'big' bed.  She was not impressed with her cot infact the terrified screaming could, I'm sure, be heard from the other end of the street.  We are still not in a bed but on a mattress on the floor and my hope is that we will be able to pick up the bed before Christmas and can officially be in a big bed then.  That way I can give her the big bed quilt for Christmas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm back

Yes our internet is re activated and I have lots to show but you will have to wait as I keep forgetting to take pictures.

Instead I have just come to the shocking revelation that it is 7 weeks till Christmas (well it was on Saturday) and I am not finished with all my christmas gifts.  So rather than sewing what I want each time I sit down at the machine I am going to get my act together and finish my pile of Christmas presents.  As most of them need to get to England I will focus on them first and will get them sent off before the end of November.

My list is as follows:

For England
5 cushion covers for my sister
Something for my dad - the problem here is I have no idea what to make/buy

For NZ
1 Teepee
2 Super Hero Capes
1 Crayon roll

For Aus
1 Secret Santa gift - ideas are slowly appearing (to be posted on 1 Dec)
4 teacher gifts - again no idea yet of what to make
Finish Jots Quilt (only binding to go now)
2 dresses (1 for Jot and 1 for me)

So now the list is done I will start at the top and work my way down.  Hopefully keeping you informed as I go.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blogtoberfest - the end?

Yesterday as I got home and tried to upload my blogtoberfest post for Day 18 I came across a small problem.  We have exceeded our internet allowance for the year (way too much blog surfing!) so I am admitting defeat for this October (but will be back with a vengance next year).  I will post on some days but my regular daily posting is now impossible (R is going to kill me when he sees the excess usage charges).

But for today I want you to go check out the Robin Street Market blog  - they are having a giveaway if you comment by midnight tonight (Tuesday 19 October) and while you are there check out the market site as well.  Some truely gorgeous stuff.  It is your online store for unique and handmade gifts from around the world.


Check out these earings - these are going on my christmas list

Have a good week

Jots Mum

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Blogtoberfest Day 17

No pictures today as I have not been able to finish anything (yet) but I have two items sat on my ironing borad for some ironing and hemming.

In the meantime I am going to sit in front of the new series of 'Bones' and knit my face cloth which has been in the works for nearly a month after Jot hid one of my knitting needles (discovered yesterday inside one of our heating vents - I wonder what else she has been posting into them around the house)

Hope you had a good weekend.

JotsMum

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blogtoberfest Day 16

Have you ever had one of those 'Doh!' moments where the answer to an issue is just so obvious you wonder why you were having the problem in the first place?  Well I had one last weekend.

A few months ago I got Emma Hardys' book Making Childrens Clothes out of the library and traced the patterns for most of the clothes.  I didn't have time to photocopy (or even note) the instructions so when the book had to go back (it was reserved by someone else) I was a little stuck.  Anyway I forged ahead with making a Nightie for Jot (which she loves) with no instructions, I figured it would be easy as I could remember what it looked like.  I cut the pieces out of flannel and attached the two arms to the two body pieces - simple I hear you say.  Well not quite - this is where I came unstuck.  It didn't look right and so rather than put it aside and wait till I got the book back I did a patch job and cut off about 2in of fabric and then pinked the raw edges rather than hemming or putting elastic in.

So roll on to last Saturday and having borrowed the book again I though I would attempt it again with some lovely fabric I won in a giveaway from Retromummy way back at Easter ( which I don't seem to have ever posted about - whoops).  Got the instructions out, cut out the pieces (2 arms and 2 bodys) it still didn't look right when I laid it out before sewing.  I looked at the other sizes I traced and -  this is my Doh! moment - I forgot to note on the pattern that the sleeves were meant to be cut on the fold.  No wonder it didn't work right.

I didn't have enough fabric left to cut another sleeve so I used some plain cream I had in my stash (which I think might have been ear marked for something) and the end result - want to see it?

OK OK sorry couldn't resist:



I love it as the main fabric is THIS double gauze and so incredibly soft. 

I love the pattern to (now I have figured out my issue) and am already half way through the top version which I hope I will get to finish tomorrow sometime.  I also have a pair of pants from the book in progress as well (I just can't be bothered to get them done tonight, too much folding, ironing and threading of elastic for a tired Mummy.

Hope you all have a great Saturday night.

See you tomorrow
Jots Mum

blogtoberfest day 15

Luckily for me it is still Day 14 in Hawaii so I figure this counts as yesterdays post.

Yesterday was a work day for me and was for some strange reason rather manic.  It was pouring with rain (and that is probably an understatement) so I dropped Jot at childcare and then went to park the car in our normal car park.  Of course I forgot to get the buggy out so at the end of the day had to reverse the process which meant I was at least 45 minutes later picking Jot up which equals one very grumpy and tired little girl.  Managed to get her home without her falling asleep in the car which was an achievement in itself.

I am now all prepared for the influx of people at 10am for my Phoenix Trading Coffee and cards (I hope) so I should probably get myself ready or do you think they will appreciate finding me in my jammies.

I will be back this evening with todays post as I have been sewing again.

Hope the weather is good for you (I am over all this rain)

JotsMum

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blogtoberfest Day 14

Wow I have made it for two weeks!!  Celebrations all round.  Now to make it to the end of the month.

I have found it harder to blog this week, whether it has been the lack of structure or just lack of motivation I am not sure but I think I will do another series next week which I hope will get me back in the saddle so to speak.  Any ideas for topics?  I may just do some trawling through the web and see what takes my fancy enough to write about.

I found the self portrait challenge yesterday great as all these great bloggy ladies who I follow religiously have always been some random blog picture in my head and now I know what you all look like.  That is a fantastic bonus for me.

Right Jot is brewing something nasty I think so I am going to grab some dinner and head for an early night as I know we will be up during the darkness hours.

Night all

Jots Mum

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blogtoberfest Day 13 Self Portrait

 Tinniegirl threw out a challenge for everyone doing blogtoberfest to put up a self portrait.  So here we are -


It was the best of the bunch and Jot has just distracted me

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blogtoberfest Day 12

I have lost my mojo today.  I am feeling overworked and under appreciated so I am looking forward to knock off time in the hope that Jot will go to bed easily and I can get my sewing machine out.

However, I have reached a point where I can't figure out what to start next.  I have a number of things on my list but none of them are really inspiring me at the moment.  So do I start on my new summer skirt, quilt one of the quilts waiting, make my nephews Christmas present or find something new to start.

Watch this space and if you see my mojo please send it back.

Thanks
Jots Mum

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blogtoberfest Day 11

What do you do when you look in your fridge and find an unopened carton of Buttermilk with an expiry date of tomorrow?

You do what any self respecting person would do and track down recipes to use it up. As the majority of my cookbooks are still in boxes in the garage (I will unpack them before we have been in the house a year) I resorted to my good friend the internet.

Specifically the Tasty Kitchen website which is run by the Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond. It is an American site so all the measurements are in Cups which is slightly confusing to me but armed with my new set of cups everything is suddenly so much easier.

I was specifically looking for buttermilk pancakes but on my first search on Saturday evening with a cranky toddler I couldn’t find one (why I just didn’t search for Buttermilk Pancakes I don’t know) but came across this one for Buttermilk Biscuits instead. They are kind of like scones but are lighter and are still edible this morning (day 2 ½), unlike scones which I find go hard very very quickly. We made one batch and ended up with about 32 biscuits and one bad mummy moment.

Jot tried to take a hot biscuit off the pan as I was removing it from the oven, which isn’t like her as she knows and understands that things from the oven are hot, and got the side of her hand against the pan. She is fine though and nothing a cuddle from Mummy and a play in cold water couldn’t fix. Looking back there was nothing I could have done to prevent it as she was just too determined to have a biscuit (and I had both hands full) but at the time I felt decidedly like an irresponsible parent.

But back to the biscuits. I realised that having 32 yummy biscuits in the house was quite dangerous so I have frozen 20 of them for a Phoenix Cards open house I am holding this weekend. The proof I feel will be how well they defrost as scones never defrost well. Success and ½ the Buttermilk was gone.

So last night when R asked what was for dessert he had the choice of a banana or buttermilk pancakes (which I still didn’t have a recipe for), what do you think he chose. Back on to the Tasty Kitchen and I found this recipe for Buttermilk Pancakes (I used the right search term this time). I made the mix but R was in charge of the cooking (I always burn pancakes) and they are yummy. The batter made about 10 smallish pancakes and we kept four back for Jot for today. I think it would be a great recipe to make up to freeze pancakes for kids snacks but we don’t have a big enough freezer for that yet. Another success and ¾ of the buttermilk is finished.

So what do I use the rest of the Buttermilk for?

Well how about

Buttermilk Banana Bread
or
Peach Buttermilk Sherbert
or
Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pound Cake
 
Way too many choices now!
 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blogtoberfest - Day 10

Determined not to miss a day despite feeling rotten. so here I am with pictures of some taggies I made for two new baby Jacks that have entered the world in the last three weeks.


and a sneek peak at our neighbours Fig tree.  Every branch looks like this so we are hoping for a nice big crop (which we get to share)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Blogtoberfest Day 9

I have been sewing.

Way back last year I made myself a bag to cheer myself up after returning to work and I recently decided that I needed to make a new one as well I wanted a new bag.  So I used the same pattern at 85%, put the back pocket on the inside and Voila, a new bag:




 I love it.  It is bright and summery and the denim goes well with most things.

So it is nice to have been productive again  and there are a couple more things on the go which I am hoping to complete today or tomorrow so another crafty post then perhaps.

Have a good weekend

Blogtoberfest – Day 8 (part 2) – Resources

Somewhere in the world it is still Day 8 of Blogtoberfest so here is the resources post. These are just a very few of the tonnes of links out there but they are the ones I keep coming back to again and again and that I think is the sign of a good resource. I will add to this post as I discover new resources so it should always be up to date.

Books (I buy most of my books from the Book Depository as it has free international shipping and the prices are really reasonable)

One of my favourite books at the moment is Stephanie Alexanders Kitchen Garden Companion and one of the reasons I love this book so completely is that it is Australian and therefore you do not have to do any calendar swapping in your head for it to make sense.  This book tells you how and when to plant and harvest the plants you would traditionally find in a Kitchen Garden.  Not only that but it gives recipes for all of them (some obviously have more than others).  

The Self Sufficiency Series - I only have two of these at the moment Household Cleaning and Soap Making both of which I have mentioned before but do have a number of others including Preserving & Cheese making on my wish list for the future.  They are very well written, simple to follow and have all sorts of bits of information that are in some case rather shocking.  The household cleaning book contains a section on the ingredients in commercial cleaners which is quite confronting when you realise how often some of these products are used around yourself or your children.

Another on my wish list at the moment is Grandma's Ways for Modern Days which I am hoping some kind soul (who is married to me) will purchase for me for Christmas

Websites and Blogs

Down to Earth Blog and Forum - Rhonda inspired a lot of my move to a simpler life and her blog is one I keep coming back to again and again and again - it has a great search function.
Towards Sustainability Blog - Julie is doing a photo a day challenge at the moment so select a label on the right hand side of the page to jump to a different area is you wish.

Education

Online Courses for Self Sufficiency or Permaculture  - This is a bookmark on my machine as I will get round to it eventually.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blogtoberfest – Day 8 – Harvest

I had planned for today's post to just be a round up of useful websites, blog and books that can help you on your way to a simple (or simpler) life, however on Wednesday (perhaps foolishly) I promised to give you some ideas for your harvest so I have split today's Post into two. I will do my best to post the second part this evening but I might not get round to it till tomorrow.

When harvesting you garden you will at times end up with thousands of an item as all your plants bear fruit (or veg) at the same time. I for one am over Pumpkins after about 2 weeks so the need for preserving you harvest comes into play.

Harvest can be preserved a number of ways but the most frequent are:

Cold Storage - This involves placing food in a cool dark environment with varying levels of humidity (some foods need moist, others dry some warmer others cooler) which must be taken into account when deciding where to store food. A root cellar is a good place to start but not very easy to find in most of Australia.

Canning - The principle behind canning is to destroy the microorganisms that cause food to spoil and to create a vacuum in which remaining bacteria cannot grow. Essentially you are pasteurising your food so you need to make sure you get it right.

I have never attempted canning, but my grandmother always used to can fruits and veg.

Drying - This was one of the earliest methods of food preserving where sun was plentiful. It is by far the simplest and most natural way of preserving food and if you are fortunate to live in a warm, dry climate all you needs is fresh food and a little time, for the rest of us a dehydrator or an oven is all that is required.

FRUIT LEATHER RECIPE

Freezing - Although freezing does not stop the clock, cold temperatures considerably slow the deterioration of food and postpone spoilage by temporarily stopping the growth of organisms. While the initial outlay for a good freezer and the electricity to run it can be expensive it is superior to other preserving methods. More nutrients are preserved and texture, colour and flavour are better than other methods.

TIP: Always remember to label your items well and create an inventory and/or a map of your freezer so you (or the man of the house) can always find what you are looking for quickly and easily.

TIP: Freeze citrus juice in ice cube bags and use the juice to flavour dishes throughout the year.

Jams and Jellies - It is never too early or too late to learn the art of jam and jelly (Jellies have no chunks of fruit in them) making. You can create a seasonal ritual by going to a pick your own and then letting the kids help you to make the jam and then enjoy it throughout the winter. The basic recipe is simple and contains Sugar, Fruit and Pectin in varying amounts, for example raspberries will need more added pectin that blackberries in order to set.

HOT PEPPER JELLY RECIPE

CINNAMON PEACH JAM

Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys - These wonderful meal accessories add interest to a main course. They are far from nutritious on their own but make nutritious food much more delicious to eat.

MUSTARD PICKLE RECIPE

If you do not have a garden yet want to try any of the above methods buy your food stuffs in bulk when in season. Lemons can be bought cheaply when in season or ask around odds are you will know someone with a lemon tree who is desperate to off load some.

Gosh this has turned into quite a long post so I hope you all get something from it. The recipes I have linked to I have not tried (yet) but they are on my to list for the right time of year.

Have you liked the series of posts? Would you like to see another one next week?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blogtoberfest – Day 7 – The Household Cleaning

I have found that you really only need a handful of products in your cleaning arsenal and they will cover pretty much anything (with a little elbow grease)

Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda)- It cleans, deodorizes, scours, polishes and removes stains.  It is an effective oven and hob cleaner and brings a shine to baths and sinks.  It is also really good for your skin so kill two birds with one stone and put some in your bath, clean you and clean bath!   It is non toxic to humans and can be used on most surfaces and fabrics (use it in the laundry to get rid of perspiration smells.)

Club Soda - Yes it is a drink but always keep a bottle handy as it lifts all sorts of stains, red wine, blood, and grease can be fizzed away from fabrics and carpets with Club Soda.

Essential Oil - Tea Tree and Eucalyptus are antibacterials and lavender is relaxing.  All of these can be added to your cleaning products to leave a nice smell.  Lemon added to an oven cleaner is lovely.

Lemons  - Lemons are very versatile.  They are antibacterial, will cut through grease and have a mild bleaching effect.  Lemon juice also helps break down limescale.

Microfibre cloths - I picked mine up from Ikea for $9 for 4 cloths but they can be bought in any supermarket.  

Salt - Salt pulls moisture to itself and so is useful for getting out stains from carpets.  A pre-soak in salt water will help remove perspiration stains on laundry.

White Vinegar - Very useful for cleaning windows, mirrors and glass.  Mix 50/50 with water and it is a multi-purpose cleaners.  It can descale and when mixed with baking soda (Bicarbonate of Soda) it can clear blocked drains

I also have (but rarely use) Borax - It helps inhibit the growth of mildew and mould and removes grease and ketchup stains.  It can be used as a laundry booster and is a useful disinfectant. Borax is harmful when ingested so keep it away from children and pets and make sure you use gloves when using it as it can be a skin irritant.  

Ways to use them:

Sanitize your chopping board: Wipe over your board with the cut side of a fresh lemon (or lime).

To remove brown tea stains from cups: Mix some salt and White vinegar into a paste, wipe around the stain and rinse thoroughly.

Simple oven cleaner: Lightly spray oven with cold water, sprinkle a layer of bicarb over the oven floor, lightly spray with water again and leave to dry (or leave overnight).  Spray again with water and use a sponge to wipe away.  For tough areas use a palette knife or fine steel wool.  Rinse well with hot water or spray a 50/50 water white vinegar solution to clean away the powdery residue.

Dishwashing without bubbles: Dissolve 1 tablespoon bicarb is a bowl of hot water and mix in juice of 1/2 lemon.  There are no bubble but there will be clean dishes.

Remove Grass stains: soak garment in 50/50 cold water and white vinegar overnight, rinse and wash the following day.

Toilet Bowl Fizzer: pour 250ml white vinegar into the toilet bowl and scent with chosen essential oil (if you wish).  Add 250g bicarb to toilet bowl, leave overnight.  the next morning scrub with a toilet brush before flushing.

Remember that these products are natural and will need some elbow grease to get the same results as a chemical cleaner.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blogtoberfest - Day 6 – The Garden Plan

We are lucky here to have a garden, coming from a unit with a balcony smaller than our kitchen table it is nice to have some space for Jot to run round in.   Our front garden was made into a very low maintenance garden by the previous owner (presumably to make it look good to sell) and we have yet to agree what to do with it although we have agreed it needs some colour so we are on the lookout for some Bougainvillia, this is one of my favourite plants and we had petals as confetti at our wedding (not very easy to get hold of in the UK) and it will look great along the front wall.

The back garden is a small patch of grass and a larger patch of concrete.  The plan is for a number of raised beds on the concrete and to leave the grass as is.  At the moment we are thinking of Apple Crate beds on a crop rotation  basis.  This area of the garden is a long term project though and we are in no immediate rush.

We are lucky in that just beyond our back gate is an easement  (it cannot be built on as the water board need access to the pipes under it) on which we have been allowed to plant a few trees (our next door neighbour has the most amazingly huge fig tree which we are allowed to help ourselves to) and so our Orchard has taken shape.  We now have a Peach, Plum, Cherry and a Lemon tree all along the back fence which will hopefully provide fruit over the next few years, they all seem to be doing quite well although the Cherry is a little slow to realise spring has arrived.

Inspired by an episode of the SBS show Costas Garden Odyssey R and I decided that the raised bed by our back door should be a wicking bed.  We didn’t have a lot of money to spend so Costas corrugated prefab raised beds wouldn’t work for us.  Luckily we were able to upcycle some wood planks we found into the raised bed.  It took us a few months to get the cash together to fill it but all in all (not including plants) the raised bed has cost us about $300 (rather less that Costas $875 each).  However maybe we should have done a garden plan before we made up the raised bed as I am not so sure we have chosen the right plants to put in it.  Never fear I am sure we can move them at some point without too much drama.

So the wicking bed in pictures:



Before
During

After

So we are planning to plan our garden and I am looking into gardening/permaculture courses that will give us a head start in making it work for us and be productive.

Further down the line (some 5 years away) we are looking at animals.  Needless to say if we want to get a pig or a cow we will need a bigger plot of land but we plan to start off small.  Chickens are probably the way to start for us (although I would love to keep geese if only for my Christmas dinner) and I have found a great way to try before you buy here in Melbourne.  Book a Chook let you rent the chook and paraphernalia that come with them for as long as you want ($165 per month).  

You will probably have noticed that I have not mentioned water here at all.  We do not have a water system in place and are trying to figure out just what it is we need.  A Water tank for harvested rain water would be a good idea but there are some rather large logistical issues we need to figure out before we get it, like where to put it.  

WEED TIP: I have found that white vinegar sprayed onto Dandelions kills them after two or three applications.

What to do with your harvest will be the subject of Fridays post so pop back then to see what suggestions I can find for you.

Jots Mum

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blogtoberfest - Day 5 – Home made toiletries

I love this part of my simpler life. It is fun, great to use and the possibilities are endless.


I got interested when an online friend (I think it was Ruth) attempted to make soap sometime last year. I was intrigued but nothing came of it. It took two more friends to attempt and succeed before I figured I would bite the bullet.

The first attempt cooled down too fast and although it was useable (and I still have a couple of bars) the second attempt was so much better. The recipe is this one for Cold Pressed Soap from Rhonda from Down to Earth. I had to half the batch as I don’t have a big enough bowl for that much liquid and ran it through the Soap Calc to ensure the ratio of lye was correct before I started. All the ingredients I found in the supermarket or the health food shop and for my everyday soap I do not use essential oils. This is because both all of us use the same soap and I don’t think R would appreciate the scent I like and I know I don’t want to smell like the ones he likes.

I have used this recipe and have made a lavender soap using lavender essential oil and dried flowers. It smells divine and is much creamier that the everyday soap (therefore it is used up faster).

I wanted more options from my soap making so I started looking for books. None of my local libraries had anything good for cold pressed soaps so I went online and discovered a series of books on self sufficiency including this one on soap making by Sarah Ade. The series also covers household cleaning, preserving and hen keeping among others.

This book has a number of recipes I am planning to try. I have already made the shampoo bar (my hair is undecided at the moment although it smells divine) and the shaving soap (which is still curing and not yet ready to use).

Is it worth it? Yes I think it is, financially each bar costs about $1 to make (the basic recipe is less and the shaving soap is more), it feels nicer on the skin and is nice to know that I am not introducing anything harmful to Jots skin.

I have also made deodorant from Jessica at How About Orange. A very simple and quick product which I love to use. I made up the amount specified in April and still have some left 6 months later. The only gripe I have is that in winter it is completely solid and an absolute nightmare to get out of the tub I put it in. It is starting to warm up now so hoping it will be a little easier to use over the next few months. I am looking for a deodorant recipe for a spray deodorant but so far I haven’t got very far, might have to try devising my own.

There are a couple of other recipes I have noted that I would like to try but I need to find some time away from Jot where I can concentrate on something new:

Calendula Salve from Passionate Homemaker

Lavender Water from Fiolinn and the Handy Gnomes

Lip Balm and Toner from Beautiful with Brains

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blogtoberfest – Day 4 – Simple Living

As mentioned yesterday I have in mind to run a series of posts this week (and if it works I will choose a different subject for each week this month). It will run from Monday to Friday (to leave space for my crafty stuff at the weekend) and this weeks series will be on Simple Living.

There was a British Sitcom in the 70s called ‘The Good Life’, starring Penelope Keith and Richard Briers. This show is about a couple who, tired of the rat race, decide to turn their suburban back yard into a small holding completed with Chickens, Pigs and a veggie patch much to the horror of their neighbours.

My revelation was not as the result of a mid life crisis (as Toms was) more of a subtle shift as a result of Jots arrival. I am steering us along the road to ‘The Good Life’ slowly and by degrees and I hope that in a decade (or two) we will be fairly self sufficient although I doubt our destination will be quite extreme.
The need to protect Jot from harmful chemicals and to create a better world for her to live in (even if we only affect her immediate surroundings) has driven a number of changes within our household.

Our big shift has been to install a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system on our roof to provide us with our electricity. We found our supplier through Solar Choice and have ordered a 3kw system. This should generate around 13kwh of power a day (more in summer less in winter) and will hopefully provide us with about 80% of our electricity. We ordered back in July and due to some supplier issues for the inverters (they are coming from Germany) we are still waiting for the installation. I am really excited about this as it will help us financially as well as provide a much smaller carbon footprint.

We now have a garden (after 9 months this is still a novelty to me) and are making plans for raised beds, wicking beds, an orchard (do three trees an orchard make?) and a veggie patch.

I am also trialing changes in the house. I have started to make my own soap, deodorant and cleaning products. I use cloth nappies on Jot (although I am hoping this will not be the case for much longer) and I am shopping more locally and once a month I do a bulk shop at Costco.

And of course there is my crafting. I am sewing more and more of Jots clothes, knitting was cloths and warm clothes and this year I think I only need to buy 2 things for Christmas presents.

Over the next 4 days I plan to introduce you to some of these aspects of our life, some of the very cool websites and books I have found to help guide us (me) along the way and some of the benefits I have found.