Monday, December 1, 2014

Menu Planning Mondays

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Things are getting busy this time of year I have a real itch to try some new recipes but I really don't have the time.

Mon ~ Pork chops and veg
Tues ~ Fried Rice and marinated Chicken wings
Wed ~ Hot Dog Savouries
Thurs ~ Baked honey drumsticks and veg
Fri ~ Rissoles and veg
Sat ~ Sausages and veg
Sun ~ Roast chicken, Potato Bake and corn on the cob

~ Frugal Choc Mud Cake

Do you Menu Plan? What's on your plan this week?

Take Care

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Our Victorian Holiday Part 3 ~ Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary

One place on our must do trip to Victoria was the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary. It's part of Zoos Victoria and I was just totally blow away with the park. It's such a lovely place to visit. All the exhibits were amazing! I took so many photos so I'll only show you my favourites.

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One of the first stops was The Land of Parrots, where you can hand feed many birds. Brian was lucky to be able to hand feed a Red Tailed Black Cockatoo. We do get a few of these here but no where near as many as we used to.

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This little fella jumped on my hand for a feed.

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And this one wanted to check out what was under Eli's hood.

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Ethan really wanted to see and hear a Lyre Bird. Unfortunately the exhibit was closed for renos so they only had this juvenile male, about 12 months old, out and about.

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We went to a talk on the Platypus. Was great seeing them up so close. The kids learnt lots. We were lucky to have front and center seats too.

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Al throughout the park are these amazing, huge wooden sculptures!

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We also watched the Spirits in the Sky talk. That was amazing. Such a great amphitheater where the bird fly right over your heads.

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I was too slow for most in flight shots but did manage this one. This the tip of this owls wing actually hit Ethans head! That's how close you get!

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We visited the Animal Hospital and were lucky to see the Dingo pups. They were about 11 weeks old here.

So many other native Australian animals including heaps of Tassie Devils, Koalas, Wombats and Echidnas.

I was very happy to see lots of water refueling stations dotted around the place. They had bubblers as well as taps to fill your own bottles.
Lots of interactive bits n pieces. A fantastic place to take the kids.

For the four of us it cost $77, but we ended up buying memberships for $146 (kids free with adult membership) and this cost went towards them.
We were planning on visiting the Melbourne Zoo (another post) any ways so this covered that cost.
PLUS we get free reciprical membership at lots of other Zoos around Australia including our own Adelaide and Monartoo Zoos! So for the next 12 months we'll be taking full advantage of that. We've actually already been to Monarto to celebrate Eli's birthday.

I thoroughly recommend Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary! Please if you haven't been you'll not be disappointed!

Take Care

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Handmade Writing Sets

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As you know I've been writing to some pen pals lately. I've been admiring some gorgeous writing sets online but many are quite expensive. So the seed of making my own was sewn. I pondered on it and went to bed. The most amazing thought came to me just as I was falling asleep late one night.
I could make my own! then my mind ran with the idea. I had seen some lovely paper at my local scrapbooking shop just the day before. Yes it would be perfect! I had even bought a couple of new Kaiser envelope templates!
I couldn't wait until the shop opened the next day so I could purchase the paper I had seen and get started.

The paper pack came with 12 papers and a huge sticker sheet. Using this and some parchment paper I had at home I made 12 envelopes each with 2 sheets of coordinating writing paper. I also bought some coordinating Captured Moments cards and a pack of Collectables to help decorate the envelopes and paper. Both of these I have plenty leftover and will be using for other projects.

If you are frugal and watch your envelope size (I used the templates W472 and W477) you should have a good couple of inches of spare paper down one side which you can then cut to add strips to your writing paper too.

So here they are:

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The papers are double sided so they are naturally lined.

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This set was created a little differently. I loved this corner flower pattern but it was on the corner of the paper. So I created an envelope with Kraft and then cut the paper to fit the front of the envelope.

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This one I ended up with two of. The other side is newsprint but I prefer the rose pattern.

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These are just some of my favourites.

If you would like to see a tutorial please leave me a comment. I loved making these sets they are so quick and easy to do. Would actually make a great gift for a letter writer.

Take Care

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tucker Tuesday: Recipe ~ Easy Peasy Beef Pot Roast

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For years A delicious, moist beef roast eluded me. I tried everything I could think of until I gave up.
Then I thought I'd give roasting one in my slow cooker a go. Lots of fails then too. One day I finally got it! It was amazing! I have made it this way countless times and it's one of my fave meals now.

The secret is in the cut of beef. for this recipe you can't use an ultra lean cut like topside. I found the best cuts to use are blade and bolar. Yes they are slightly fatty but that doesn't bother me. I personally don't buy into the saturated fat mumbo jumbo.

I also cook mine from frozen. Now I know many people will freak out at that idea so if you don't want to cook from frozen then that's ok. Just cook yours on low instead of high. It works out just the same. Cooking from frozen just makes things easier for me.

It doesn't matter what size roast you have. If you have a smaller piece you may find you need a bit less cooking time. This recipe does cook your meat well done. It's still moist, but is well done and falling apart. You end up with shredded beef not nice pretty slices. I often cook two roasts at once. This way I have enough leftover to mix with the leftover gravy that I can freeze for easy beef and gravy rolls another night.

Easy Peasy Beef Pot Roast
1 piece of blade or bolar roast
either: 1 pkt French Onion Soup Mix or 4T of Homemade French Onion Soup Mix

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Place roast in the bottom of your slow cooker. Sprinkle with soup mix. Pour over a little water, just enough so the bottom is covered by a few millimeters. The water will help to steam the meat keeping the meat moist and helping to create lots of condensation to make lots of juices that you can make a delicious gravy from.
If frozen cook on HIGH for 6-8 hours. If defrosted cook on LOW.

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I drain off the juices and make the best gravy from it. Just thicken it using a roux. It won't need much seasoning, just a bit of freshly cracked black pepper.

Take Care

Monday, November 24, 2014

Menu Planning Mondays

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The weather is warming up a little now so we are making some of our favourite winter meals for possibly the last time and starting to make some more summer meals too.

Mon ~ Roast Chicken and veg
Tues ~ Steak sandwiches
Wed ~ Rissoles and veg
Thurs ~ Spaghetti Bolognaise
Fri ~ Chicken snitzels and veg with mushroom Diane sauce
Sat ~ Chow Mein
Sun ~ Beef Pot Roast and veg

~ Strawberry Cream Hot Milk Cake
~ Jelly fruit

Do You Menu Plan? Would love for you to Share

Take Care

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tucker Tuesday: Recipe ~ Weetbix Slice

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I don't know about you but my boys refuse to eat the weetbix crumbs. So we often end up with heaps left over after a couple of months.
I've been trying to find a nice weetbix slice recipe, similar to the basic choc slice that I grew up with, but they have all turned out too dry and crumbly. So I made up my own adapted from a few different ones I found online.

Weetbix Slice
4 weetbix, or about 100g of crumbs
1/2C coconut
1/2C sugar
1T cocoa
100g melted butter
1/3C water

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, ensuring it's mixed and combined well.
Press into a greased swiss roll tin. Squish it right down.
Bake at 180C for about 20 mins.
Allow too cool in the tray a little then spread with a basic chocolate icing (icing sugar, cocoa and milk) and sprinkle with a little coconut.
Allow to set then cut into squares.

We enjoyed this slice this weekend when we went for a drive around our local area. IO packed a thermos and some strawberries to go with it too.

Take Care

Monday, November 17, 2014

Menu Planning Mondays

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We had a couple of hot days this week which meant our first trip to the beach for the season!
Luckily I had planned some hot weather friendly food for those days!

Mon ~ Roast Pork and veg
Tues ~ Lasagna and salad
Wed ~ Hamburgers (after the beach)
Thurs ~ Fried Rice and Chicken wings (wings baked in the morning to stop the kitchen from heating up)
Fri ~ Fish and chips
Sat ~ Lamb chops, Potato Bake and veg
Sun ~ Sausages and veg

~ Banana and Strawberry muffins
~ Weetbix slice
~ Quiche for a picnic lunch

Do you Menu Plan? What's on your plan this week?

Take Care

Friday, November 14, 2014

Down To Earth Annual Christmas Swap

The Annual Down To Earth Christmas Decoration Swap has just wound up. I love this swap. One of my faves.
It's always nice to receive parcels of new goodies but I particularly love it come each November when we put up the Christmas tree on Pageant weekend and I get to decorate with all my handmade items I've received over the years.

This year I was teamed with Tracy.

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My parcel came wrapped in a huge tea towel and tied with Christmassy ribbon

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Tracy made me some a Christmas bunting and a stocking made form old jeans, so cool.
these was also a lovely hand made card and some gingerbread scented bodywash.

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A close up of the stocking.
How clever to include the waist band and pocket in the design!

I had a few things in mind to send Tracy and in the end I decided on a table topper that featured Christmas trees.

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I have folded the topper in half here to fit in the photo. I also made a couple of star shaped dishcloths, a handmade card and seeing as Tracy lives interstate I thought I'd send her a little something from South Australia, our famous Fruchocs.

Have you taken part in any Christmas swaps this year?

Take Care

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Our Victorian Holiday Part 2 ~ Marysville and Lake Mountain (photo heavy)

Ooops where did that 2 months go since I posted about the first day of our holiday?
Oh well I'm here now.

The next day we made the drive through the top of Melbourne and onto Marysville. A little stressful getting onto the new roads that our GPS's didn't recognise, not easy when towing a van, but we got there ok. The drive through the Yarra Valley was gorgeous too.

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The Black Spur was gorgeous!

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Our set up in front, In Laws behind.

We had nice big sites at the Marysville Caravan Park. The amenities was just to the right of the photo.
Behind those tress in the background was the Steavenson River and the main street. So nice and close to town!

There had been some good snow falls all week and we wanted to make the most of it so the day after we arrived we decided that we'd take a drive up Lake Mountain and see if we could find some free snow play.

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Tree ferns heavy with snow

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One of my fave photos

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Our delightful GPS wanted to take us through this short cut. 
4WD or no 4WD we were not going there!

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We all know the saying cold enough to freeze your tits off?
Well she lost one! (Not built by us)

We found a nice little turn out where other people were playing in snow (just after the Warburton turn off for those playing at home). A fairly quiet stretch of road, safe enough to play.

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Pop and Ethan

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Eli copped a good one early. Straight down his back!

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He wasn't happy!

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Beautiful scenery

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We found this great area that was full of ferns covered in snow. They looked like little mushrooms. We didn't go past the signs, those other people weren't with us.

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After about half hour the kids were getting cold and wanted to go. So we grabbed so nice family photos and jumped in the car with the heaters cranked!

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We drove home via Warburton etc and had a lovely day out.

Next edition next week I promise!

Take Care