Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tomato Sauce

On Monday I got home from work and got stuck into making some homemade tomato sauce, a first for me.

I got 3 kgs of tomatoes from my parents and the 500g onions were ours, plus added sugar and spices and cooked for four hours. You do need to keep an eye on it as it will stick a little if you don't give it an occasional stir. Sieved it all (which will also give you an upper arm work out - at least for one of your arms!) and reboiled for another 5 minutes, pour into your sterilised bottles and Daa Daa - Tomato sauce!!

I had Wes taste test it and he told me it was spot on! The recipe is yet another one from A Year in a Bottle by Sally Wise, though I left out the whole cloves because I am just not that keen on them and instead of just white sugar I mixed in some brown sugar too. I also halved the mixture as it calls for 6 kgs of tomatoes but if you could get hold of a box at the markets you could easily do it.

Buy Nothing New - February

Next month (February) I will be trying to buy nothing new whatsoever. Not a thing. I can buy secondhand or barter for anything we absolutely need, though I just don't know if I am out there enough to be a serious barterer. Joining me in this is my sister Megan and my Mum. We have worked out the rules so to speak which is pretty much commonsense, no sneaking stuff into the grocery shop, yes we can still buy food and pay our bills but its the grey areas that will have to be up to each of us.

Like is going to the coffee shop for a cup buying something new? I am more of the thinking that it is as you are "buying" the experience if that makes any sense at all. Though if you had to buy a sandwich for lunch that wouldn't be. Anyway that will not be my biggest issue, mine will be the fact that the kids have gone back to school today and a lovely long list of all the things they must have will be sent home. As usual.

The other hard thing will be walking past a bargain. I work next to Target and usually have a look through for anything we need that is really reduced that we need. I have gotten Dave a pair of $50 jeans for $1.80 and tshirts for both him and Wes for less than $2 each. So walking past a good bargain will be very hard, though I suppose the answer is - just don't go in there!!!

I am hoping that this month will show me how to be more creative with working with what I have and also saving a bit of money. Wish me luck!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Refilling the Cupboard

Things were looking pretty grim when I went to the jams/relishes/pickles cupboard this morning. We were down to one jar of tomato relish from last years lot, 2 jars of marmalade, 1 jar of pear chutney, 1 jar of apricot jam, 2 jars of mixed berry and 4 small jars of strawberry jam. No pickles, no onion marmalade, no more beetroot (have we really eaten all of it already?) and no plum jam!! That cupboard is usually brimming with jars of yummies but through gifts and eating it has become quite sparse. Disturbing.

This afternoon I have added 7 jars of plum jam, 5 jars of tomato chutney and 4 jars of zucchini pickles. I hope to make the red onion marmalade tomorrow, I love that on everything. I will have to have a look at the grocers for some beetroot to pickle if not i will have a look at the markets next Sunday.
Do you have a cupboard full of yums? And how much do you keep on hand?

In the Garden

The garden is looking good and we are getting some good produce out of it but now I wish I had planted more. We have an abundant supply of zucchini (no surprises there), tomatoes, squash, basil and lettuce. We are still eating our own carrots, beetroot, garlic and onions too.
Four days away from home and a you get a monster zuc!
However there have been a couple of failures too. I have only had 2 cucumbers off my plant! Last year I planted Richmond River Apple and they were prolific this year I planted a different variety and it has done nothing. I'm not sure whether it is the spot I planted it or what.
The other not so great grower has been my nugget pumpkin bush which was going to be my compromise in not having a full patch this year. It has grown flowers and looks healthy but nothing has happened. The flowers must not be pollinating. I thought their lack of growth was due to all the rain we had but now I am not sure. Gardening is a learning experience!
I picked the first of my beans yesterday and still have more to come but I am really happy with how that experiment came out and can't wait to make a casserole to put my beans in!! If i had more space I think I would definatel plant more and I think I may even be able to do that if I fiddle with the garden space a bit more. I will definately try different types next year.
Aren't the beans pretty?
I am planning my Autumn planting now, I want to have a really great productive garden this winter, so it is all in the preparing and planning!!! Cross fingers!

Hospital and Holidays!

January has been very eventful in this household so far, not in all good ways either.
I had a three day stay in hospital in the middle of the month due to an inflammed gall bladder which will now have to come out sometime in the next few months. The pain was really awful and not something I want to repeat so I am on a no fat diet so my gall bladder doesn't have to work too hard. On the good side I had just started Weight Watchers so that fits in well with the eating plan - got to find a bright side!
Thankfully I got to spend some of my daughter's 7th Birthday at home with her after being released in the evening. She had her birthday on the Saturday at the locat RSM club which you paid per child and everything was done for you. I wouldn't do that again as I think I could do just as well for a lot less money but it turned out to be a blessing as I was in no shape to host a birthday party for 10 girls.
Then we headed off on holidays to Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid north coast. It was relaxing and fun but it rained the WHOLE time one day we had over 100 mm!! It started raining about 90 mins after leaving home and stopped when we were about 60kms away from home on the way back. AND its raining here now.
View from our balconey
We did get to have fun though. We went to the Pet Porpoise Pool, Solitary Islands aquarium, ice skating at the Big Banana, bowling and luckily the place we were staying had an indoor pool and games rooms so we took full advantage of that too. We did miss out on a few outdoor activities I had had planned but you got to work with what you got.
Sadly we all have to go back to work or school on Monday. Holidays just aren't long enough are they?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cleaning Up and Cleaning Out

How many clothes do two children need? Apparently a whole heap! This morning I went through Amelia and Wesley's wardrobes and these four large garbage bags are the result. The cupboards are a lot cleaner, though Wesley's need some more work mainly chucking last years school junk. Three of the bags went to Vinnies (a charity shop) and one bag to a friend of Amelia who is two years younger. With a big clean up you can clearly see what they do and don't have and how much they DO NOT need!With Mum sending me daily Glitz & Blitz emails my cupboards are looking a whole lot better. Here is my platter and dish cupboard.
And my lovely pantry - you can see everything!!
And lastly one of my two pot drawers, its so lovely when i go past I am known to have a peep at their loveliness!
I made two purses today, one for Mum and one for Megan, it is to hold their cards.
Amelia made wrapping paper this afternoon, her friend is having a party next sunday and she wanted to get started straight away.
And keeping with my "no buying cards" this year, here she is making the birthday card.
It has been a really warm Sunday, I am just waiting for it to cool down to go mulch the garden. I was really happy to do a bit of sewing, after Christmas and New Year I am having trouble settling back into a normal routine (probably like everyone else!) I have only 7 more working days until I get some time off and I am way way way ready for it.
I haven't got any quotes for the fence or for the house to be painted yeat but we did have a builder around yesterday to get a quote for a front porch. Our house has a big porch area but no roof so if you do sit out there it feels like a fishbowl (cause it is). I think too that because it is high off the ground it is even more exposed. I want to sit out there in the evenings and catch the cool breezes and not feel like everyone is looking. I wonder how much the quote will be? I am guessing more than I want to pay!! It is still hot. Are you hot where you are?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Walking Around an Ashford Garden

Out the back door into the garden...

Looking into the courtyard....
Cock-a-doodle doo

Mum and Dad have no idea what this is, any takers?
Looking back at the house...
Fruit trees
Compost areas


Love this colour!
Around the side...
The front - paving is awesome..
BBQ Area

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Garden, Cooking, Making

Here is Amelia's sewing machine, isn't it too cute? It works well too.
This material will be turned into some purses. I love the pattern. The red colour is more a cranberry colour and is gorgeous.
More zucchini and squash. I haven't got sick of it yet! Going to do a stuffed zuc come the weekend, should make a really nice lunch.
Grapes - somehow the birds have not gotten to them yet!!
Bertolli beans, this is the first time I have grown beans to dry and store. I am hoping it will be a good trial and one I may be able to expand on next year.
Wes made this self saucing pudding. Oh yum!! Saturday morning he is planning to make breakfast - Baked tomato with an egg inside, sounds good hey?
Oh thank heavens I can hear rain!!! The first rain of 2012.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 To Do List

After some debate here is the 2012 to do list. If not everything gets done so be it but we will try our very best.

1. Become more healthy.
2.Eat out of the garden more.
3. Financially our priority 1 is our mortgage, getting it down as much as possible.
4. Replace laserlite on the deck.
5. Get a few quotes to get the house painted next summer.
6. Get a few quotes for a front fence.
7. Get the kids more involved in chores, gardening, cooking, activity etc.
8. Get the parents more involved in chores, gardening, cooking, activity etc.
9. Have more fun.
10. Buy no birthday cards this year.

What do you think? They are a bit all over the place but this is what we came up with. There are of course a few personal goal such as both Dave and I wanting to lose weight, Dave wants to go for his 2nd Dan and I want to get my P's etc but we are happy for those above to be householdy ones.

I was going to put be more organinsed but my Mum is kind of doing that for me. Everyday she sends me and two of my sisters one job to do around the house. It's easy when its only one job.

What is on your "to do" list?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year New Pets

Santa gave Amelia two guinea pigs for Christmas! So Sparkles and Glitter have joined our crew. They are small and are still getting used to us but they are very very cute!With some of his Christmas money Wes bought himself an aquarium. There are three goldfish now in residence. Their names are Steve, Bob and Jimmy - yes we are assuming they are all blokes.
Happy New Year to everyone!! I have to admit we didn't see the year in at all, fast asleep in bed! Last of the party animals we are not!!!
Dave and I have set down some goals for this year that mainly focus on health and fiscal matters, both I know I will come to love and hate in equal measures. I am really hoping to plan my vegie garden more so that it will evolve into the "dream" garden that I have in my head. We also want to do some housey stuff like fix the laserlite for the deck, a front fence and maybe have an awning over the front porch.
Mostly I am hoping for a happy, healthy and safe 2012!