2011 in review

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Now the year is drawing to a close I am looking back at the year that was 2011. For me 2011 had two big things, one of the worst and one of the best.

In May I lost my job, a job that out of the few that I have had was my absolute favourite. I worked at Borders, which for me was a wonderful bookstore. I remember the first time I ever walked into a Borders store and distinctly recall thinking that whoever designed the store had been in my head! It had everything a reader like me could have; a huge selection and comfy chairs, what else does a girl need? When one was opening up in my area I walked past the partly built store and laughingly said to my dad that working there would be the perfect job for me only to realise a few hours later it really was! Although I was perfectly content in my old job I decided then and there I would do everything to get a job at Borders and I did. I started when the store opened in December 2007 and stuck around for two years, then deciding that the crazy hours of retail weren't working for me or my family so I made the difficult decision to leave. Needless to say I missed it like crazy and lasted just over 7 months before I went back part time. 10 months later our store, and all the others were gone. And I still haven't gotten over it.

On the other hand, 2011 was the year I fulfilled a 27 year old dream by going to Paris and it was wonderful. I can't wait to go back!

Right now though I am looking forward to 2012, I have big plans for the year and no doubt some of those will be shared here. All the best for the new year for you and your loved ones and thanks for reading.


Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas filled with family, friends and love. We had Christmas lunch at our place for the first time in many years, after that it was the usual chaos getting to everyone's place to catch up. I love it, but I'm glad it's over because now I can catch up on some sleep! Our girls were up at 5.30 on Christmas morning, eager to get unwrapping. Both of them received new bikes from Santa as well as lots of other lovely things.

Christmas Day here was lovely, the weather was beautiful and sunny, something we haven't had much of lately and although it wasn't too hot it was warm enough for the kids to go for a swim. Boxing Day was spent with some great friends, out on the lake for a few hours of boating, tubing and wakeboarding followed by a lovely BBQ dinner.

But today it's back to the normal, back to catching up on the laundry and other chores, and back to the gym for me!


I finally made something off Pinterest!!!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

I am totally addicted to Pinterest, madly pinning stuff that I would love to get around to making someday, but I have finally bitten the bullet and made something! Yay!!

It certainly isn't as well made as the original one, but I'm not and never will be a professional cake decorator so I don't think it's too bad.

The girls and I had heaps of fun making them (not the biscuits though, we took a short cut and used store bought), and we decided that since snowmen aren't big in Australia at this time of the year we would call them 'Christmas in Australia'! Rather fitting.


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Monday, 5 December 2011

I love it when it is time to start the Xmas decorating. I try to start some time in November, but traditionally around here 1st of December is the day we start so I usually have a bit of difficulty getting Mr Homespun to start earlier, especially frustrating when I need him to get the tree out of the roof of the garage!

So the tree is finally up and over the next few days I will start adding other touches around the house, I'll admit I do have a few Xmas decos that stay up year round just because they make me smile! I would also love to add to my home made decos, I have a gazillion Xmas patterns and I can't seem to stop buying more, so hopefully I will be able to make time to do that over the coming weeks, although I have nearly finished this jacket so I will probably finish that first. And let's not forget all the baking to be done over the coming weeks... and the shopping...

Happy decorating!

Cookbook of the month

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Another month has gone by so it's time to look at my cookbook of the month. Julie's book is a lovely book and although I didn't make as much from this book as I would've liked, I enjoyed the ease of the ones I did.

Stuffed chicken breast with prosciutto and apricot sauce

This book is probably most suited to those who haven't been cooking for very long as there are quite a few recipes that most of us that have been cooking for a while would already have (a favourite) under our belt, like Spag Bol, Lasagne etc. But the photos are lovely, the instructions very clear and for the most part, the ingredients are what we would already have on hand or at least have no difficulty getting.

Mum Goodwin's chocolate cake - not a great photo because...

...we had already tucked into it!

December's cookbook of the month is, and no surprises here, The Essential Christmas Cookbook!

Front Cover
Mine has a different cover.

I really like this cookbook and I have a few others from this series.


The vege garden

Friday, 25 November 2011

We have had some great weather of late, great for the vege garden that is. Last week it rained almost all week, followed by two very hot days last weekend and now it is raining again. And it doesn't stop. Just a little more than a drizzle, but the perfect amount to keep the new plants happy.

Hopefully the rain will clear this weekend, at least for a few day so my garden can get some sunshine and so I can get some washing done!

Happy gardening!


Friday, 18 November 2011

So far I have only made two recipes from my cookbook of the month, beef and broccoli stir fry and marinated chicken wings. The stir fry is one I have made a couple of times before and we all love it (kids included, they love it). I have made a slight change to the original recipe which calls for light and dark soy sauce, sorry Julie, but I am a girl on a budget and we only have the normal soy sauce in the house so I simply substituted it for both types. I would love to put the recipe up here but to be honest I'm not up with the copyright aspects of doing this so if anyone has any advice please share it!

The other recipe is the marinated chicken wings, which were very nice and not as sweet as some versions of chicken wings are. I also made a small change by leaving out the coriander root, coriander is a herb/spice I am not fond of so I don't grow it at home. Unfortunately this one didn't get any feedback from the family (that's how I am starting to work out which recipes become part of our normal menu or not, I got this idea from a friend, if it gets unsolicited positive feedback I will make it again, if not, it's out). I also forgot to take a photo so you will just have to imagine what it looked like.

I know I haven't made much from the book, but I have been opting for simpler dishes at the moment, my dishwasher died (again) and I have had to do a squillion loads by hand for the past couple of weeks and not wanted to add more to it! I know most people don't have one so I really can't complain, it's just that they save soooo much time. I did, however, pick up my new dishwasher yesterday so I will no doubt make more from the book between now and the end of the month.


More on the Kids Reward System

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

My post on the Kids Reward System I introduced in our family a few months ago gets so many hits on the blog so I thought I would give a little bit of an update on how it is going. We made a few tweaks to the value of some chores, but other than that the system is still going strong here. Admittedly, the girls don't always get their chores done, and they certainly haven't started doing many of the extra chores I put on the list (like getting the clothes off the line and helping with dinner) but at least I don't have to nag, if they chose not to do them, they don't get their pocket money as quickly as they would if they helped out.

It has also helped that I have stopped saying yes when they ask for a magazine or something similar when we go to the shops. Sure they haven't stopped asking yet, but they are optimists! In case you are considering this system, it still gets the big thumbs up from me!

My original posts on the reward system can be found here and here.


Cookbook of the Month

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

I'm sure that there are many of us that can all proudly and frustratingly attest to having too many cookbooks, yes? I add frustratingly because if you are anything like me, they rarely get used but are too good to get rid of, taking up valuable bookshelf space. To try and combat this I have decided to have a cookbook of the month. Unfortunately I will only get through 12 books in the year, but it's a starting point (I may change this to cookbook of the week, I'm sure I have more than 52 cookbooks, lol)

So I thought I would start off with an Aussie book so my cookbook of the month for November is (imagine a drumroll here):

Masterchef Winner Julie Goodwin Cookbook
Our Family Table by Julie Goodwin. Julie was Australia's first Masterchef winner and although I have had this book for a while I have only made a couple of things from it. What I love about this book is the recipes are all 'normal' food, nothing that is crazy fancy or with ingredients that are hard to get. The things that I have made from this book we have all loved so I thought it would be great to try out some more. I will post the recipes I use and give a quick rating of what we (kids opinions included) thought of each. This is also a great excuse to justify buying her new cookbook in the near future!
Anyone else have this book? Can anyone recommend any recipes from it that I absolutely must make?

Bread Making

Thursday, 27 October 2011

As mentioned in a previous post, I have started making my own bread but am trying to find the right recipe for us. So the first one I have tried out is a no knead artisan bread I found here. I'm not sure about it costing 40 cents a loaf, even in $US, flour must be really cheap over there! Anyway, here are some pics.

This is the dough, ready for the first rise.

The loaf shaped and ready for cooking.

The loaf cooked and looking good!

So the bread was lovely and chewy but a little doughy so I have made another batch and will play with the cooking times. I love the ease of the making and storing the dough, but not sure this is the recipe I will continue to use for us. I'll give it another go but then I might keep looking for the one, ha ha ha.


Still Knitting Along

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The pattern I am working on is the oatmeal coloured one closest to my yarn.

I have been knitting along for months now and am still going, surprising when I usually get quite bored with a craft after a few weeks, but not at the moment. I am currently working on something for myself, the first real full size thing I have made, previously I have made scarves, hats and baby jumpers but no garments for adults. As a result I am a bit nervous and awfully excited to see how it will come out! As you can see the edges are curling up so I will have to block it when finished (or should this be done before it is sewn up? anyone?) so that has me almost as nervous as knitting it has! It is a delicious chocolate colour, very me.

I have started making bread from an easy recipe I found on the 'net, I will post later on how it works out.


5 Things

Friday, 21 October 2011

I thought Friday was a good day for a list! Are you a list writer? I am very good at lists, so good in fact, I think I spend more time writing lists of what needs to be done than on the actual doing! My name is Mrs Homespun and I'm a procrastinator...

Anyway, here is a quick peek at what I am determined to get done in the next week, along with all the other tasks that make up my life at the moment:

5 Places that need decluttering in my home

1.   The bathroom cupboards
2.   The bar top
3.   The medicine cupboard
4.   Miss 8's clothes (wish me luck there!)
5.   My desk.

Maybe I will post photos of before and afters, and maybe I will take a heap of photos and then realise there is no memory card in the camera like I did this week!

Join me? What's on your list?

Our Holiday

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

In case you missed it, we have just returned from our dream holiday to Paris. We spent two weeks in Paris and another week in London. The trip is something I have dreamed about since I was 13 and it was better than I could've imagined, although we were all very happy to get home (3 weeks is about 1 week too long for a home loving girl like me!). Here are a few happy snaps.

We did almost everything we set out to do in Paris (don't even get me started on missing Monet's garden, argh) with a few day trips thrown in. Unfortunately by the time we got to London I was ready to go home so except for a lovely trip to see some friends, I really didn't enjoy London at all. We all had a lovely time but are so glad to be back home, although really missing the breads of Paris. I am going to start baking my own, maybe not everyday but regularly, to see if I can get back some of the deliciousness of the bread served over there. Wishful thinking, I know!

We're back!

Monday, 10 October 2011

After a long and lovely holiday we are finally back home (late last night). I am now madly unpacking and trying to get rid of the jet lag so I should be back up and running later in the week.


All is quiet

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

All is quiet here at Homespun Headquarters, we are madly preparing for the big trip! I probably won't post much for the next few weeks.


One Day

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

I really should slow down on the reading, I seem to be getting little else done lately! But I had to share this one, last week I finished David Nicholl's One Day, and I am soooo glad I did! Let's forget the movie is coming out shortly, I am a little nervous at what they may have done to it, and read it anyway! This book is definitely up there amongst my all time favourite books ever, it was exquisite. A friend called about an hour   after I had finished it and asked if I had a cold because I had been crying so hard (yes, so hard an hour later I still had barely stopped the hicupping) my nose was all blocked up! It reminded my of Cecelia Ahern's Where Rainbows End, both being stories of best friends and the opportunities that pass them by as time goes on. If you haven't read either put them on your list of must reads.


Lemon Harvest, Slugs and Gardening Books

Friday, 19 August 2011

I'm still here...

I know I have been a little absent over the past few weeks, but I am still here. So here's a little catch up with what I have been up to.

Don't you love winter for its citrus? These are the lemons I harvested from our tree last week. The tree is still not empty, I just ran out of room in the basket! I will juice most of these to freeze so we can have lemony goodness year round.

This is us slug hunting! We have a gazillion slugs out at night in the garden, eating all our (not so) hard work, so occasionally we like to go slug hunting. The bottom shot is the results of our 15 minute hunt, we save them until morning and feed them to the chickens! The girls (chickens that is) love them and gobble them all down in about 30 seconds.

We have also had a pretty mild winter this year (can you tell from Miss 12's sleeveless pj top???). Only two weeks until spring! I get a little lazy in the garden during winter, but I have all sorts of plans for when we return from our trip, there seems little point in starting it all now when we will be away for three weeks when all the action starts. So now I am just in the planning stage. I would really like to work at getting an ongoing plan for the vege patch, I usually plant a heap of stuff, wait for what seems like forever and then, bam!, everything is ready and gone at the same time. I need to organise a routine for ongoing plantings. I also like the idea of planting stuff together and filling all the gaps instead of rows of one particular plant and then on to the next one.
Book Cover:  Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting

I am currently having a read of this book, I have had it on the shelves for a few months but am now going through it and getting some help from it. It is a fantastic book!
Book Cover: The Permaculture Home Garden

I am also, one day, going to get my hands on a copy of this book, I borrowed it from my local library a while ago and it was also a fantastic book.


Book Club - Jasper Jones

Monday, 8 August 2011

Jasper Jones

I loved this book! It is riveting, brilliantly written and the characters are unforgettable.  The ending was perfect and left me not sure whether I wanted to laugh or cry, and so little of both ensued.

This book has won a slew of awards, all of them deserved. This is truly one of the best books I have ever read. Mr Silvey, you are extraordinary.

Pity party's over

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Ok, ok, ok, I have pulled my head in and stopped whinging. Sort of. I know the last post sounded depressing, but it wasn't. It was cranky and frustrated, but not depressed. And I know I have no real reason to be so upset, my family is healthy, we live in our own (will someday be) lovely home, and my husband has a job that allows me to be at home at the moment but sometimes I get so mad at myself. Seriously, I'm nearly 4#, quit looking for the magic pill!

And then I head over to Cherry's and see what her family is going through and although I already know how lucky I am, it still makes you stop. And think.

So I am starting from scratch.

I will look at my routines and work out what is working for me and what's not. I will remain positive. I will be motivated.

I will.

I am.


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Today was a why? day.

Why don't I have my house under control? Why haven't I finished all the house projects, we have been living here for 12 years? Why can't I be bothered getting off my butt and exercising/losing weight etc?  Why aren't I making time for the crafts that I love? Why can't I make a decision about what I am going to do now I don't have a job? Why can't I decide whether I want to start a small business? What am I waiting for? Why am I passing on all my bad habits to my kids? Why aren't I being a better role model?

Why is it, just three weeks out from a 'big' birthday, that I still don't have my life in order? Why do I still feel like it's OK if I haven't got it all together because I'm still young? When I'm not.

Maybe it's because there is this birthday looming.

Either way, I hate why? days.

See you soon

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Forgive me if I am AWOL for a few days, I have a  horrid cold that is knocking me for a sixer and I am mostly just moping around, with a little puttering when I feel up to it. The washing machine and the weather seem to want to replicate my mood with the washing machine dying yesterday and east coast low moving in for the next 3 or 4 days. I have someone coming out to look at the washing machine this morning, hopefully it won't be an expensive repair job, it is an oldish machine but with Paris just around the corner it's timing could've been better. And as for the east coast low, last time we had one in our region we had flooding everywhere and the loss of several lives so fingers crossed it isn't that bad this time.


School holidays

Monday, 18 July 2011

Well the winter school holidays are almost over for another year, today the girls have a pupil free day so we are off to see HP7.2. These holidays we have also been ice skating, made rainbow jelly, had bike rides with dad, gone to the park, shopped for luggage for our next term break (so excited!), had a State of Origin pizza party (too bad NSW lost), planted veges, made a cake and had sleepovers! There were only a few things left on the list that we didn't get to, but all in all I think having the girls write the list of things they wanted to do over the holidays was a good idea, I'm sure that if the list wasn't in plain sight they would be complaining how these holidays were boring and that they didn't do anything. Kids!


Knitting along

Saturday, 16 July 2011

I have been doing an extraordinary amount of knitting of late (extraordinary for me that is!) and here's a little peek at my projects.

This is an infinity scarf I made for myself and I love it! I made it with two strands instead of one strand of bulky as I haven't found any good sources of bulky yarn around here yet. It can be left as a large looped scarf or doubled up to keep my neck extra warm. I found the pattern here.

This is the same scarf, but one I am making for a friend. Yes, I know it is very orange but she is returning to her native homeland of Canada soon and her favourite ice hockey team is orange (Philly Flyers maybe?). Anyway, going to ice hockey games and living in Canada I'm sure it will get used!

This is a scarf I started this week, just a yarn user-up really. But a lovely pattern found here.

And finally this is a little black beret I am knitting for Miss 8.

As you can see I have several projects on the go at once, something I like to do with books too. I always have several to choose from so if I get bored with one and can easily pick up another. That and I am a major procrastinator so I rarely finish anything! (Just joking, I do occasionally finish things, sometimes...). You may have also noticed I am a huge fan of Ravelry! If you are a knitter or crocheter make sure you have joined as it is a great resource. You can have your own page and link all the projects you have your eye on, and update as you make progress. I haven't updated mine in ages, but writing about it has inspired me to do so!


Backyard chickens

Sunday, 10 July 2011

We keep chickens in our backyard and at the moment they are in a smallish hen house, with nesting boxes, in a large run made by Mr Homespun, but after we return from our trip there are a few backyard improvements we are finally going to get around to and as a result I have been pondering ways to improve the current chicken arrangement. This week I went around to a friend's home and she has a lovely small run for her chickens that I have taken a few ideas from. As a result of my slight addiction to all things Pinterest, I have also stumbled across some other ideas on the net, although definitely more elaborate than I have planned. Check out this chicken coop from Heather Bullard! In my wildest dreams I would have a chicken coop like this one! It is divine. But in the meantime, my beloved chooks will stay as they are whilst I continue to dream and plan.


Book Club - The Secret Life of Bees

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

I have recently joined a book club with some of the mums from Miss 8's school and am loving it! The book we have just finished is Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees. I enjoyed this book, Kidd's writing style  makes for very easy reading but to be honest I was a little bit disappointed. Without spoiling it for those of you who haven't read it, a tragedy occurs later in the book that left me feeling that the book was missing something because I wasn't overly upset by this tragedy. I love to form an emotional attachment to characters (and have a good bawl) and I'm not sure whether the lack of attachment was deliberate (as the main character is a little distant from some of those around her) or whether it was just a product of the lighter writing style. Either way, it was a really good read, but it didn't make the list of all time favourites.

This month we are tackling Craig Silvey's Jasper Jones. Whilst I worked at the bookstore we sold a gazillion copies of this and it was especially popular with book clubs so fingers crossed it delivers something special.

Until next time.

Gardening and a homemade blackboard

Monday, 4 July 2011

Since finishing work I have immersed myself in a couple of projects I have wanted to do for some time.

This weekend I finally tackled the back vege garden. I always find this time of the year a little uninspiring in the vege garden so I have neglected it for some time. This is what it looked like on Saturday morning (above) and below is how it looked a couple of hours later!

I removed the passionfruit vine that was blocking the sun to the other half of the garden and replanted this side. Much better! Although you can see the plants I transplanted are still suffering from a little shock but since this was taken they have bounced back.

I have also been working on this blackboard, something I have wanted for the kitchen for soooo long. I have seen much smaller versions around but they are always too expensive so I enlisted hubby's help and together we whipped this together. The kids have since used it to list all the thing they want to do on these school holidays.

I'll post on the other things I have been up to soon.
Until next time...

PS Happy 4th to anyone from the US reading this.

Kids Reward System Part II

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Good grief, time has passed quickly between blog posts! I have been busy finalising our plans for Paris, booking hotels, train tickets etc and I have been working on a home project that has been bugging my for a while, I will post on it later as it is so close to being finished.

A quick update on a post I wrote a few weeks ago, the kids reward system. In my home we have deemed it a success. After both girls had filled their jars for the first time we made some slight adjustments to the value of some chores (for example getting the clothes off the line moved from a small marble to a medium one) to encourage the girls to do some of the chores they don't usually attempt. We also added a few we had forgotten about! If anyone wants to have a look at our completed (at this stage, who knows what we'll think of adding as they get older!) list, please let me know and I will happily send it to you.

Cheers for now

Look what she made!

Friday, 17 June 2011

For some strange reason Miss 12 had it in her in her head to make a sponge cake earlier this week (here she is working away on it, yes of course in her school uniform, let's get it dirty and give mum more washing!).

And here is the end result.

She did a great job, it was a lovely sponge. She also set the table for a full afternoon tea and invited my mum and dad around to share. What a nice way to spend the afternoon.

Wild Weather

Thursday, 16 June 2011

We have had a heap of rain lately but this week that combined with some extreme winds so yesterday morning I woke to find this in my front yard.

And a better view as the day dawned. The local fire brigade had come along and taped off our house and the house next door.

So the workers from our local electricity provider came along to clean up the mess.

And they continued to hack away at the tree until this was left

And the amazing part was they did all the sawing, hacking and lopping, as well as bringing in the crane to lift the remainder of the tree off the power lines, while the lines were still live!!! Very brave men indeed.

And yes, this is my front yard, with the retaining walls half finished and the garden beds full of weeds! Unfortunately the walls need to be finished (some of which has to be unbuilt and then rebuilt) before I can get in and get planting. Maybe when we get back from Paris...