“Dame Wash Alot.” Or rather, damn! I wash a lot…

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After seeing a post today by Be A Fun Mum and a recent post about washing by Barbara Good from The New Good Life, I thought I’d share how I tackle the never ending piles.
Pictured, is my indoor washing line. It doesn’t matter what season it is here in Victoria, there’s pretty much always a chance of rain. My dirty little boys can go through two to three changes of clothes a day easily, so with all those ‘little people clothes’ I often run out of pegs outside on the washing line. Thus, the overflow goes on here, a sturdy, tidy clothes rack with ample room, that doesn’t collapse like some of the other crappy wire/metal ones you can buy.
In addition to this, sometimes it can be 11pm before I get a chance to hang washing out so this way it’s easy to hang inside before I go to bed and is often dry by morning. It was originally one large playpen which was awesome for about 6 months but quickly out grown. This has given it another life – sideways. The beauty of this system is that I have room for a basket for each family member beneath so I can sort and fold straight into the baskets (with their names written on them!) That way, even if I haven’t put it away yet they know exactly where to find their clothes without having to rake through a big pile. In the photo, they are in the dining room-come playroom, but they are very light weight so I move them around the house to wherever I feel they are most out of the way at the time. The other thing that I love about my indoor washing line is that through winter we are running the heater anyway, so we might as well take advantage of this, killing two birds with one stone (awful expression!) instead of running the clothes dryer as well.
Another system I have which I think helps a lot is that I wash our clothes separately so they are easy to sort. The kids have a dirty clothes basket so I wash theirs together, my husband has two – one for his filthy work clothes and one for his casual clothes and I do mine separately. There is another basket in the bathroom for towels and linen. If I’m honest I pretty much always dry these in the clothes dryer. I don’t really use it for much else as its so expensive but towels come off the line like cardboard otherwise. (I’m not into chemical softeners.)
Finally, I don’t iron. Not one thing. I don’t even have an ironing board. I think there is an iron in a cupboard somewhere that a guest once bought to iron her shirt for a job interview. Honestly, life is too short and I am too busy. I spent my childhood watching my mother loathe her piles of ironing and while granted, thanks to her hard work, we always looked immaculate, I don’t want to spend 1/4 of my life ironing. Im not going to get to my death bed and think “gee, I wish I’d ironed that shirt in 2005.” Maybe when the kids start school next year I might do school uniforms but even then, with boys pants and polo shirts, I think I could get away with drying them on hangers. A lot of fabrics these days don’t crease badly anyway unless you’re wearing 100% cotton.
So there you go. That’s how I tackle the endless, thankless chore of washing! Well, me and a gigantic 10kg washing top loading machine.
Feel free to comment with your tips!

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Really awesome things to do with leftover bread – Part 1

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*If you are not into grains or carbs, this post is not for you I’m afraid…

Mind you, we don’t eat a lot of bread here. Well, C does actually. He drives a truck for work and he needs food that can be managed easily so sandwiches or wraps tend to be a daily staple for him. J5 loves a toasted sanga, but while R2 will munch on some toast, he won’t eat sandwiches at all. I love bread, I just don’t think the love is mutual…
Anyway, we often end up with half a loaf of uneaten bread. I’m not one for wasting food, to me it’s just like throwing money in the bin, so I thought I’d share a series of posts about what we do with our left over or day old bread. This is part one…

TASTY TRIANGLES

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These are essentially little tarts made from bread and leftovers. You can fill them with anything – bolognaise, savoury mince, tuna mornay, casseroles, baked beans, bacon and eggs etc… This time, I used the rest of last night’s bacon, zucchini and tomato risotto. (made with brown rice though, not aborio)

Step 1
Cut a diagonal slit from the centre to one corner of a piece of bread.
Cut one crust off and fold the bread in to form a triangle cup.
Squish the bread together to seal and line a muffin tin with 12 pieces.

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Step 2
Fill triangle cups with leftovers.
*I drizzled a little olive oil over the empty bread baskets too but it’s not really necessary.

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Step 3
Top with grated cheese and bake @ 180 C for approx 30 minutes.

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Step 4
Such a perfect weekend lunch or quick midweek meal Enjoy 🙂

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Bread Posts Still To Come…

Part 2 – “Savouries”
Part 3 – “French toast, family style”

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The Most Surprising Moments

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Most surprising are those moments in mothering,
When you’ve done nothing but shout all day
and you’ve wished yourself far away,
To somewhere quiet, somewhere clean,
Somewhere where white linen is more than a silly idea.

When being a mother is swallowing you like a prescription pill,
and you’re breathless with quiet rage.
Frozen in the face of anxiety and expectation,
And guilt and judgement
And paperwork.

When the tedium of washing and cleaning
and questions and cooking and washing and feeding
and fighting,
is equal to the weight you now carry on your stay at home mum belly…
And everybody is asking you “what’s for dinner?”

There will be a sparkling little moment,
A tiny shiny jewel,
Worth far more than the ring that brought you here.
Perhaps more precious and bewildering
than even conception itself.

Your little boy with his enormous heart,
And eyes like your own,
will for no reason other
than the fact that you are his mother,
Say to his brother, “let’s go and pick mum some flowers!”

And his brother will say “yes, good idea!
But not too many.
Because flowers are nature
and without nature,
we can’t breathe.”

In those most surprising moments,
I’m so thankful I am here.
And I smile at my babies
Who noticed the pretty daisies
Long before their mother.

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Snow Day!

I realise for many of you, snow is nothing new. But for us here in central Victoria, Australia, it’s a real rarity.
Don’t get me wrong, it gets cold, really cold. Frost covered lawns, hail, rain and crazy winds. Even snow occasionally, but rarely does it fall so heavily and settle on the ground so thick.
Today was just magical for us. Our boys now 5 and almost 3, have never seen snow and I haven’t had many opportunities in my life either to have a snowball fight or build a snowman. Limbs and leaves clothed in sparkling white, it was truly a sight to behold.

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We live in a country-ish town at the foot of Mount Macedon and this afternoon we bundled the kids into the car in their warmest woollies and headed up the mountain. Snow began hitting the windscreen as we drove higher and was met with squeals of delight… By all of us!
Honestly, it was like driving into Narnia.

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A place where magic happens and memories are made.

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The kids were beside themselves when we jumped out of the car, running off to make tracks in the snow, noticing how it crunched beneath their boots.

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Television has obviously taught them about snow ball fights as they wasted no time getting stuck into that.

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And before long, C and I joined in too.

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J5 got busy rolling snowballs…

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While R2 went exploring…

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And of course, snowmen were constructed by cold, wet little hands.

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Big and small…

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It was the most fun we’ve had as a family in as long as I can remember.

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Sometimes as adults we forget how to just play

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Home for hot showers, hot cuppas and hot, salty fish n’ chips.
Perfection 🙂

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WINTER WARMER WEDNESDAY – Slow Cooked Hearty Beef

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Well slow cooker season is well and truly here. Today, some sun has managed to briefly peek through the clouds but generally the mornings have been icy and the days, wet, windy and dreary. On the plus side, spending more time indoors does inspire some delicious meals and baked goods.
The slow cooker is back as a permanent fixture on my kitchen bench. It’s just so satisfying to turn a cheap cut of meat like gravy beef into a tender, mouthwatering meal with so little effort.
As well as that, slow cookers make it so easy to cook in bulk and freeze half for later. I can’t believe that it’s taken me three years to figure out that using the slow cooker is also the best way to defrost and reheat those meals. You just dump the frozen sauce, soup, casserole etc… Into the slow cooker and about 6 hours on high should do the trick! Why did I waste all those hours defrosting things in the fridge or on the bench?
Once it’s hot, you can even add your rice or pasta into the pot with no need for extra dirty dishes. I add some extra water, about 1/2 – 1 cup so it doesn’t suck too much of the liquid out of the meal.
You can easily halve this recipe by the way if you prefer but I like to cook a lot and freeze half for a rainy day.
Anyway, let’s get down to business…

Slow Cooked Hearty Beef
1 kg gravy beef, diced
2 small or 1 large red or brown onion cut into rustic chunks.
4-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 large sweet potato cut into large even cubes
4 small potatoes quartered
3 carrots sliced
1 tin tomatoes
Salt, pepper
1 tbsp dried herbs (I used sage and thyme)
3-4 tbsp flour (you can use arrow root, plain, spelt, cornflour – anything that will help it thicken)
1.5 – 2 litres beef stock

Directions
*You can throw everything in together, turn it on and walk away and you will get a great result.
But I like to do a few steps first to add a real depth of flavour.

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1. Season and brown beef in batches and add to slow cooker with carrots and potatoes.
2. Gently fry the onion and garlic in the same pan used for the beef.
3. Add flour and a pinch of salt, stir to coat and fry for a couple of minutes.
4. Gradually add about 1/2-1 cup of water to the onions to create a gravy.
5. Add onion gravy to the pot along with herbs, tomatoes and stock.
6. Cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 8-9 hours.
7. Serve with cooked rice, crusty bread or simply as it is.

* Optional: add some leafy greens like spinach or silver beet to the surface of the casserole and let it gently steam under the lid for about 20 minutes before serving.

Enjoy the goodness 🙂

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Toy Storage

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I was just having a read of Barbara’s blog over at the new good life and she was talking about de-cluttering and the never ending battle against kids toys taking over our living areas.
Thought I’d post a few pics of some of my storage solutions.
That unit pictured with the shelving and wire drawers is brilliant for toys. I originally purchased it for the laundry but found the drawers weren’t big enough to be very practical for sorting our mountains of washing. For toys however, it’s ideal. It tucks away neatly in a corner. I can categorise types of toys in each drawer eg: cars in one, musical instruments in another, action figures in a third, puzzles in the fourth. And because the baskets are wire and the shelves open, the kids can easily see what they’re looking for without tearing 5 million toys apart as they do when they are all in a toy box.
Lego is a whole new world for us since my son’s 5th birthday a few weeks ago so at the moment we are working from an upturned kids’ play table. It keeps it contained and I can easily move it from the floor to the dining room table depending on where the kids are playing but long term I’m working on a better solution. Stay tuned!
And of course, every little boy needs a weapons chest yes?? Sigh… I quickly came to the realisation that boys will turn anything they can get their hands on into a gun or a sword so I’d rather it be something made of plastic than – my curtain rods for example. Or my now ruined rolls of wrapping paper. Or their father’s guitar, an attachment for the pram, a hobby horse, a broom… You get the idea.

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The formula tins pictured contain sorted small toys like army men, smurfs, animals, marbles and other bits and pieces. The empty baby wipes box holds about 50,000 matchbox cars. The shelf of books is the spillover from another matching bookcase full of children’s books.
I’d like to say this is where their toys begin and end but there is still a big plastic bucket tucked under the coffee table and 3 tubs of craft supplies in a cupboard. Plus other things like board games hiding away in any nook and cranny I can find!
How do you store your kids toys? Are you winning the war?
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Morning Madness Made Over – Create an ACTION STATION!

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Tonight, the winter holidays and our family break comes to an end and we will be back to a frosty reality tomorrow morning. Hubby has had three weeks off work and being cold and wintery, we haven’t done a lot, but rather simply enjoyed spending time at home together. We celebrated our little one’s 5th birthday and caught up with my sisters’ family, down from Sydney for the school holidays and spent a weekend with C’s family. Other than that though, we’ve just relaxed and enjoyed slowing down a bit. The kids stuck to their father like glue which was in some ways a bit sad for me. My babies are now little boys learning how to be men and not very interested in hanging out with mum when dad’s around. (Especially as he was a bit of a novelty I suppose.) On the other hand, it was so lovely to get a break, sleeping in and spending some time on my own for a change.
Tomorrow morning however, the madness of getting the kids fed, dressed and out the door for an 8.30am kinder start, begins again.
In fact, term three starts for most kids tomorrow so I thought I would share my secret weapon: our “Action Station.” (Pictured above)
Each family member has a box on the top row for their bag, hat, and scarf and below it, a box for their shoes. My DIY key hooks mean never doing the mad key hunt and the silver bowl holds bits and pieces like phones, wallets and sunglasses. Having everything in one central spot is an easy way for me to pack everyones’ bags and lunches and the kids know exactly wear to find their boots and hats etc… To get themselves organized quickly.
The storage cubes were just cheap from Aldi, the frames for the keys were from target, and the hooks and wooden letters were from Bunnings.
I also lay the kids clothes out on the couch, make lunches the night before and put breakfast stuff out on the bench so everything is ready to go without requiring too much thinking.
And that’s how I make our mornings manageable, how about you? Would love to hear your tips and tricks!

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