Tuesday, 31 July 2007

There is always a price to pay

It seems after my latest visit to the physio, mowing my lawn was not such a bright idea. Although I have not made my lower back as bad as it was, I have certainly made it regress. I have sworn off mowing, sweeping and vacuuming until I recover sufficiently! I promise :)

On a brighter note my plastic bag system seems to be working well so far and I even found I had money left over....go figure! I'm going to accumulate the extras in a tin for a while and then bank it when it gets to a reasonable amount. Although I do have to get the corvette fixed so will probably spend all my savings on that for the moment :( but at least I feel I can do it so far and will keep you all posted on my ongoing progress.

Anyway off to bed for me with a hot pack and some paracetamol.
Take care of you.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Taming the Urban Jungle....

Yes, this is my back "lawn" although I am kind of embarrassed to call it that. There are definitely more weeds than lawn. Today the little red silver corvette (otherwise known as my lawn mower) and I tackled it. That was until I stopped for a drink break and then the corvette decided she didn't want to start :( Seems I shall have to take her in for a service. I noticed as I was cleaning her up that she has a loose blade and I think also the seal is leaking on the little primer nob.
I guess it is fortunate that my budgeting seems to be going well so far! This way I will be able to allow for the repairs in my next fortnights budget.
I have also managed to implement some menu planning, in the past I have normally done this on a weekly basis but i am trying also to rationalise my time when it comes to doing things like shopping. I figure doing it fortnightly will cut down in terms of the total time I spend in the supermarket - including the time I spend waiting in line at the checkout!
My menu for the fortnight looks something like this:
1. Salmon fillets with prawns and vegetables
2. Corned beef
3. beef chow mein
4. swiss steak (crock pot recipe)
5. Impossible Pie
6. Green Chicken Curry
7. Impossible pie
8. rissoles and steak
9. chicken schnitzel
10. spaghetti bolognaise
11. marinate drumsticks with cous cous
12. homemade pizzas
13. chicken & corn soup
14. Hearty Beef Casserole (crockpot)
I haven't assigned days to the menu items which means I can be flexible with what we eat. Next fortnight I will try and assign days to the menu to fit in with our busy schedule.
Next on my list of things to tackle is my daughter's birthday - I still have to organise her present, she would like a queen size bed in her room instead of her bunks. Most of her friends have just the one bed in their rooms now and she wants o be like all her friends (isn't that the way with teenagers?). I think it is a sensible kind of present and is something she can take with her when she gets older and moves out. We decided on queen size as it means we can share some of our manchester. So the hunt is on ...I have about 17 days to sort it all out :)
Of course we are now also into waiting for baby mode, so I am on standby to go to my best friends birth. She is due on 20th August. I am getting excited.
Anyway enough of my blabbering, I'm off to put a hot pack on my back and watch some TV. Not that I am a great watcher of TV but on Sunday night I do like to watch Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy.
Take care of you.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Budgeting for beginners...

Something I have been trying to do for a while is track where my money goes to see if I can save a bit more, or even pay more of my mortgage. So far my efforts have been a little slack, so after doing a bit of reading and surfing the net I have decided to try the envelope system (also known as the plastic bag system). It basically entails setting up an envelope/bag for each expense category with the amount to be allocated written on the outside. Then each week/fortnight/month (for my purposes I am going to try f/n) you withdraw the full total and allocate ti to each of the bags. If you want to read more about it head over to the Aussies Living Simply forum and read the thread on Living within your means :) Also another blog I've been reading had a nice explanation of her system and the categories she uses is busy woman at her blog A vision splendid.
I will do my first f/n withdrawal on Monday so will give you a progress report in a couple of weeks and let you know how it is going (or not!). Thanks also to Kez for her menu plan for the month, this girl shops monthly...I'd love to be able to do that one day :)

Anyways, my back has had another session at the physio so I am still not allowed to sit for long.
Off to collect children form swimming.
Take care of you.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


One of the best veggie burger recipes I have made to date.
Thanks to Rene for the recipe :)
Not a great fan of Coriander so have never made the cream/dressing, but I still think they taste great without it. Enjoy!


1 cup (280g) red lentils
1 tablespoon oil
2 onions, sliced
1 tablespoon tandoori mix powder
425g can chickpeas- drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 egg
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
2 ¼ cups breadcrumbs (almond meal is nice here)
Flour for dusting.

Coriander and garlic cream
½ cup sour cream
½ cup cream
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

To make patties-Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the lentils to the boiling water and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain well. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onions until tender. Add tandoori mix and stir until fragrant. Cool mixture slightly.
Place the chickpeas, half the lentils, ginger, egg and onion mixture into a food processor. Process for about seconds or until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the remaining lentils, parsley, coriander and breadcrumbs, combine well and divide into 10 equal portions.
Shape the portions into round patties (if the mixture is too soft, refrigerate for 15 minutes or until firm) toss the patties in flour and shake off excess.
Place patties on lightly greased barbeque plate- cooking 3-4 minutes on each side until golden, only turning once. Serve with coriander and garlic cream.
To make cream- combine all ingredients and mix well.

The patties can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and stored covered in the refrigerator. The cream can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Two posts in one day!

Feeling a bit sorry for myself today with a sore back and a sore finger. Both make sitting at the computer and typing hard, but I so love to go read everyones blogs and I am getting better at making comments too! I figure I have lurked long enough and I know from my blog how much I enjoy people coming and reading my recipes and posts :) So I thought I'd say thank you to everyone who has visited so far and I hope you'll come back sometimes and check out my new recipes as I post them!

Off to have a warm shower and an early night.
Take care of you.

Amanda's Banana Walnut or Date Cake

This recipe was given to me by my wonderful older sister, Amanda. The recipe card has a few stains on it - I can remember my sister and all her friends putting together a set of recipe cards for one of their girlfriends who was getting married. I was lucky enough to get a photocopy of the cards. I duly cut them up and stuck them on my own cards (a sort of fluro orange). It too is a family favourite an never lasts long at my house.
I hope you like this one too Jo!

Banana Walnut or Date Cake

125g (4oz) butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 very ripe small bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts/dates
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda


Have butter and eggs at room temperature. Mash bananas finely with a fork (you should have 3/4 cup of mashed bananas). Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add bananas and vanilla, beat on low speed until well combined. Stir in walnuts/dates, then sifted flour and soda in two lots. Mix well. Spread mixture into well greased 20cm (8 in) ring tin, bake in moderate oven for 40mins, or until cooked (when tested). Stand for a few minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.


I always make it in a loaf tin - cooking time is about the same.
Can't decide which I like better bu the dates definitely lead to a moister cake.
Freezes well...I normally slice before freezing.

Monday, 23 July 2007


Saturday was a beautiful sunny day here in Adelaide. Sunday was not as nice though, but as we had already planned to go to the Torrens Island Produce Markets, we just made sure we were dressed warmly.

Being my frugal self I had a list in my head of which fruit and veggies I ideally wanted, but first we went for a wander looking at prices. There wasn't a zucchini to be seen (they are currently over $10kg here ) and the only beans I saw were $8kg, which is similar to everywhere else. I ended up spending $19.30.
For my money I got
3kg of swiss brown mushrooms (locally grown in Adelaide) $6
1 large rockmellon (nice and sweet) $2
1 large cabbage $2.50
2 red capsicums
2 yellow capsicums
6 unwaxed red delicious apples (there were 99c/kg)
6 overripe bananas (to make a couple of cakes)
6 nice bananas for eating
1kg bag carrots

Apart from the carrots which were pre-packaged in a plastic bag and the mushrooms which were in a box, I managed to just carry everything on my hands to be weighed and paid, then slipped it into our bags.
The children enjoyed the experience and had fun helping me look for bargains.

I ended up spending less than I would have at my local fruit and veg shop and so was happy to share with my parents and my friend Mandy. I gave them each 1/4 cabbage, 1/4 rockmellon (the children ate the other half for afternoon tea) and 1/2 kg mushrooms. So I still have 2kg of mushrooms to work with. Will take another 1/2kg to give to my other friend Jo and the rest I am already using in various recipes.

After the produce markets we went to the Fisherman's Wharf markets @ Port Adelaide. My son is kind of obsessed with the "lego" shop there . The stall has a selection of new and mostly second hand parts and boards. Thomas is loving it and is finding a new way to spend pocket money.

Today Sarah has a pupil free day so after some housework and a physio appointment we are off to buy her some new runners for school etc. Her best friend Jess is also going to hang out with us too.
Take care of you.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Beef Chow Mein

Not much happening today, but found this recipe and cooked it up for my dinner tonight to take to work. Everyone thought it smelled good and even gave one person a taste. Got rave reviews and everyone wanted the recipe...so here it is...very quick to make btw :)

Beef Chow Mein

500g beef mince
1 onion, chopped
1 tlbsp butter
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 tsp curry powder
1pkt chicken noodle soup
1 tlbsp gravox
1/4 cabbage, finely sliced

1. Fry mince and onions in butter until meat is brown.
2. Add all remaining ingredients except cabbage. Pour in enough water to cover the meat completely.
3. Cover and simmer until water has evaporated.
4. Add cabbage and leave to cook for another 5-10 minutes.
5. Serve by itself.

My notes:
Found this in my old recipe box, was once a family favourite. I actually added some celery as well when I made it today it would work well with zucchini as well (when they are not over $10 kg in the shops), corn would also be good or peas if you like them (I don't). I also didn't have any gravox as my son can't have it. You could add some cornflour dissolved in water if you wanted it "saucier". My son wasn't here so I could get away with the packet of soup mix in it.
The next time I am going to make it without the chicken noodle soup and water and use homemade chicken stock instead. I will definitely add a few other grated veggies, maybe even some grated broccoli stalks...may need to add the cornflour as well as a handful of broken up noodles to make it like the original.

Take care of you.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


Certain major events in your life always make one think about how you are travelling. Going in hospital last week scared me a little and made me realise how much my family means to me. I guess there is always a risk with any anaesthetic and I did make sure I told my children that I loved them as well as my boyfriend and tried to spend lots of time with them the few days prior to my day surgery. Of course I came through with flying colours but it made me think about how I am living my life and what I would change given the opportunity. Being a single parent has made me frugal in a lot of ways, but I guess I still have things I like to splurge on. I have spent more time reading more blogs about people who are living simpler, more sustainable lives. I guess this is a path I am exploring and may eventually want to head down.

One person who really inspires me is Rhonda and her Down to Earth blog. I loved her post today about "convincing the family" and these words in particular summed up what I am trying to achieve with my family:
"It's more about giving up what you can do without so you have money for things that are important."

I have to say though that on the whole my children are great, they remember to turn off lights and since my son did a unit at school last term on sustainable living we have had a bucket in the shower. I mostly make a lot of our food from scratch, due to my son's food intolerances. I am taking baby steps to achieve my long term goal.

Other things I am trying for the first time are :
-growing my own veggies my spinach and bok-choy are growing very slowly, but given the prices of green vegetable right now i will start to give them a little more TLC to see if I can harvest the young leaves soon.
-a compost heap, which has been somewhat neglected, but as I have a few days off on the weekend I am hoping the weather will co-operate and I can mow the lawn (i.e. weeds) and fork over the compost heap!

Wish me luck !
Take care of you.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Tangy Lemon Cake - photo

Last night I finally had the energy to use up some of the lemons lying around.I made two loaf style versions of the cake as I hate just using the oven to bake one thing! Most times I make at least two different recipes/ batches of whatever I am baking that day and considering how fast the children consume it, it is just as well I do.

So here's the picture of one of the cakes. This is really moist and very lemony! Enjoy :)

Off to work this morning so we'll see how my stomach muscles hold up...still feeling a bit tender.
Take care of you.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Just thought I might do a catch up for the last few days. The school holidays started here on Friday. Saturday we had soccer to go to and Sarah went to Jo's to have her hair thinned and her blonde foils redone.

On Sunday we drove into the city (the weather wasn't the best so we didn't want to chance the train).

We visited the Rundle Street Markets for a bit of retail therapy. Then the boys headed off to Toys R us and we went to Target and Diva.

Sarah picked herself up a few pairs of bargain earrings from the clearance rack.

Then we sat and ate our sandwiches (home made) and I splurged on some McDonald's fries for us all to share and a piece of fruit each.We also had our water bottles that we brought from home.

Then it was off to the car park to drive home. (we managed to squeeze it all in under two hours, so our parking in Frome St parking was free).

On the way home we stopped off at the Fisherman's Wharf markets at Port Adelaide. Thomas thought he was in heaven when we showed him the LEGO store. All those little pieces that are forever getting vacuumed up were available by the piece, lots of men and little accessories! Thomas spent all his pocket money on bits and pieces, then spent the rest of the afternoon sorting out all our existing Lego @ home. (with a little help from Sarah & I)!

Yesterday was my trip to Memorial Hospital for Day surgery. Can I just say that all the staff were fantastic! So caring and helpful. Spent lots of time waiting around, but they had comfy couches, TV and magazines plus I met a few other really nice Ladies who were also waiting. We all had matching gowns, dressing gowns and little blue "shoes", but each of the surgeons patients had different little "shower" caps. All of Basil's patients had white with little tigers on them!

Suffice to say I feel a little battered today, like my abdomen has been a punching bag. More drugs and the wheat bag seem to be keeping it at a manageable level.

Take care of you.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Tangy Lemon Cake

Rhonda over at down-to-earth was asking for recipes to use up excess lemons.
This would have to be my favourite "lemony" recipe.

125g butter
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour

Soften butter and cream with sugar, then add lemon rind and eggs. Add flour and milk. Bake for 45 mins in a moderate oven (around 200c)

After removing from oven, pour the following mixture over the surface and leave to cool in the tin.

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar.
Put in a saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved.


Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Carbon Cops

I watched the first episode of this new ABC TV series last week, but seems I missed it this week (my TV watching is minimal). Tonight I went surfing to check out the website to see what I had missed.
I stumbled across the Carbon Emissions Calculator so decided to give it a go. According to the website "Australian households generate almost one-fifth of Australia's total carbon emission - an average of 14 tonnes (14,000 KG) per household each year." I thought as a family we weren't doing too badly as I have probably gotten my kids well trained into turning things off when they leave a room (TVs, lights etc) and i was somewhat pleased to see that we are below average in this category. Our calculation showed 8370kg...still a lot I know but I must say just over 40% under the average makes me feel okay about how we are lessening our carbon footprint.
take care of you.

Monday, 2 July 2007


My weekend was fairly busy and at least part of it involved lessening my footprint on this earth. I worked on Saturday so that was mostly unproductive as far as household chores go. Saturday night was a "soup & scrap" at my friend Mandy's house. I am working on a baby album for one of my friends who is having a baby. (seems there are 3 friends now who are all due before Christmas - guess i will be working on a few more albums!).
Sunday i caught up on all the washing, I worked full time last week (due to sick workmates) so everything go ta bit out of hand. By last night I had brought in 4 loads of washing and had it all folded in front of the heater.

Managed to score some free timber for kindling, from the shop we got our mattress from, although we are not using the slow combustion heater as much this year it is still nice to light it when I get free wood. We also went to the local Bunnings to price some timber to re-do my bench tops. Since I will be living with this kitchen for a few more years it seems the easiest/most cost effective way to replace them. We did the grocery shopping on the way home, managed to spend very little as I bought bulk chicken and steak a few weeks ago and am trying to use up what I have first.

The rest of the afternoon we spent building a compost bin/enclosure. Basically a wooden box shaped frame with an open front. The timber were the surrounds form brick pallets from the house being built next door. The sides I covered in an old piece of chicken wire that came from my Dad's shed. The back was one of the mangled sheets of colourbond from my damaged fence. All up I spend nothing but my time in constructing it.
I roped my boyfriend into helping and he supplied the screw and the staple gun, as well as an extra set of hands. Oh and for a cover on top I salvaged an old piece of carpet off someones curbside council pick up pile.

All in all I feel it was a productive day. Hope to take a picture and post later tonight!
take care of you.