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My Love Language

Thursday, 31 January 2019
Hello Dear Reader,

The first ever quilt I made for my daughter, quite wonky!

We are a very small, compact family, with no grandchildren on the horizon for quite some time, and that is totally fine. We are enjoying this new chapter of our lives, this empty nesters thing. Our son has moved next door with his partner and they have great plans to renovate the home to make it their own this year.

This black and white one is my sons

Our daughter and her partner are building their home this year, down here, as well as keeping their business thriving in Cairns, so it will be the busiest of years for them. We will support them wherever we can, even if it's just feeding them, doing their washing and giving them a place to sleep.

Milly's babies quilt 

My darling sister has been a hands on super Nanna since the day her first granddaughter was born, and this year, the youngest granddaughter, Milly, starts her prep-year at school. These two little girls are the closest I will get to grand babies for a while I think and I love them dearly.

My first scrappy quilt

Over the last 8 years or so, I have made a quilt for our daughter, our son, my sister, my niece, a little baby quilt for each of my grandnieces, two quilts for co-workers babies and I have made a scrappy quilt for us using up all the left over fabric from these quilts. Next I wanted to make a bigger quilt each for my little grandnieces, well that was the plan, but life and quite a few years, well and truly got in the way.

I even made a denim quilt from op-shop jeans

One of my goals for this year is to finish Milly's (Millicent) quilt (I started it for her third birthday, she turns 6 this year) and also make one for Tilly (Matilda) so as soon as Spotlight have a special on I will go and select some fabric to make her one. She is turning 8 this year, in November, and is all of a sudden very grown up. For the design and colour of the quilt, I will ask her what her favourite colour or interests are at the moment and go from there.

A little baby quilt for a lovely co-worker

Quilts are a lovely thing to be working on, there is the joy of selecting the fabric, being creative with the design and then spending many hours sewing it all together, it is an act of love. This got me thinking of my love language, I would say it is definitely feeding the people I love and I also making quilts for my loved ones.

Another baby quilt for an equally lovely co-worker

What is your love language? Also what is your creative outlet?

Have a lovely day,

One Year Ago-My Best Tips for a Frugal and Simple Life
Two Years Ago-No Blog Post Today
Three Years Ago-Chicken and Ginger Congee or Jook

When Jack met Jamie OR when Shakshuka met Huevos Rancheros

Wednesday, 30 January 2019
Hello Dear Reader,

Without a doubt, my favourite blogger, Insta-star and simply amazing cook at the moment is Jack Monroe from Bootstrap Cooking/Cooking on a Bootstrap. Her recipes are quite wonderful with lots of flavour packed into every mouthful. And you probably already know that I adore Jamie Oliver, one of the most influential chefs of our time (well, at least I think so). So when I was reading Jacks latest book "Cooking on a Bootstrap" and found her recipe for Shakshuka and then the following day, Jamie's recipe for Huevos Rancheros came up on Instagram I knew I would have to make them both.

They were similar but just a little bit different from each other and I loved the sound of them both, so I decided to mash them together and todays recipe is what I came up with. A very economical and delicious dish that you can eat at anytime of the day, not just for breakfast, in fact I made this for our relaxed Friday night dinner last Friday and really loved it. Funnily enough one of my other food star crushes, Julie Goodwin, posted something very similar on Saturday morning on her Instagram feed. Touché Julie!

Ingredients for When Shakshuka met Huevos Rancheros, clockwise from right-a couple of handfuls of baby spinach, one medium red capsicum cut into batons, a good handful of parsley, finely chopped, 4 eggs at room temperature, 2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane, 1 large onion, finely diced, 450 gram potato, peeled and diced into 1cm dice (then boiled/steamed till just tender) 2 teaspoons ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste, 2 teaspoons crushed chilli and 1 can diced tomatoes 

In a large, heavy based, non stick fry pan, sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil on low heat for 5 minutes then increase the heat to medium and add the cumin and chilli, again sauté for 5 minutes 

Now add the red capsicum and sauté till the capsicum starts to soften 

Add the can of tomatoes, rinsing out the can with a little water and adding that also. Let bubble away for 5 to 10 minutes or until slightly reduced and thickened then sprinke over 1/2 of the chopped parsley 

Next, add the cooked potato cubes and spinach and let the spinach wilt down for a minute or two

Make four little divots in the veggie mixture with the back of a spoon and crack in the eggs, turn heat down to low

Pop a lid on and cook till the eggs are just set (or to your liking)

Spoon out a generous serving of veggies with an egg in the middle and sprinkle with chopped parsley. I served ours with warm multigrain wraps to mop up all the goodness.

Over to you, what time of day would you eat this? And what else would you add? Are you also a fan of the lovely Jack?

Have a lovely day, 

Three Years Ago-My Favourite Knives

How I Line a Baking Tin

Monday, 28 January 2019
Hello Dear Reader,

Just a quick little post today about how I line a baking tray, gosh my life is so exciting isn't? I use a combination of cooking spray and non stick baking paper to line all my baking trays and cake tins when roasting or baking.

I first spray the baking implement very lightly with cooking spray, then cut the baking paper to size and then apply it. The cooking spray acts as glue and stops the baking paper from sliding around.

This is the method I use when using rectangle or square baking trays-

Firstly lightly spray the baking tray with cooking spray then cut the baking paper a little bigger than the outer edge of the baking tray

Now cut 4 diagonal slits on each corner, a little deeper than the inner edge of the tray at hand

Making sure they are quite even

Gently push the baking paper down into the pan, overlapping and adjusting the paper at the corners to fit snuggly, this is where spraying lightly with cooking spray comes into handy. The paper clings to the edges of the baking tray.

Your tray is now ready to be filled and baked

Next time I bake anything in a round tin. I will do a little step by step for how I do a similar method, for a round tin. 

Have a lovely day,

One Year Ago-Sunny Side Up Sunday
Three Years Ago-Molasses Gingerbread

Sunny Side Up Sunday

Sunday, 27 January 2019
Hello Dear Reader,

Today I am grateful for my dishwasher. Without fail, it fills gradually throughout the day and after dinner, it is usually full to bursting, I then add an Aldi dishwashing tablet (cause they are cheap and work very well) and press play. Some kind of magic happens and then, the next morning I empty out all the squeaky clean pot, pans, glasses, cups plates and cutlery. It's the third job of my morning ritual, I boil the kettle and make my tea, I let Ninja out the front for a little while and then I empty the dishwasher.

I try and empty the dishwasher slowly and quietly as lovely hubby is always still asleep at that time of the early morning, he's a night owl and I'm a lark, I love the quiet, soft action of putting away yesterday, clearing the path for a new day.

What are you grateful for today?

Have a lovely day,

One Year Ago-What we bought, spent and ate this week
Two Years Ago-This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday
Three Years Ago-What we have eaten, this year, so far

What we bought, spent and ate this week

Saturday, 26 January 2019
Hello Dear Reader,

Happy Australia Day!

I was awake super early this morning, not by choice, lovely hubby, our son and his lovely partner are heading out fishing, they left at 4.30am, but his alarm went off at 3.30. I couldn't go back to sleep so thought it best to get up and start the day.

The dogs, as always, were sitting at the screen door looking at me while I emptied the dishwasher and  I've just let Ninja out the front for a bit of a wander, it is nice and cool as the sun is not quite up yet. I'll finish this post soon and get out for a quick morning walk with the dogs before the heat of the day sets in.

Today I want to-

Make a batch of muesli
Clean at least 2 windows, blinds and screens
Do the washing
Do a quick vac including the lounges (Ninja the black cat, need I say more)
Pick up some more cat dry food plus treats from the vet (Ninja needs a special dry food for her teeth)
Pick up some more cheese and lettuce for the fisher peoples lunches tomorrow (They are doing a two day Marlin competition)
Make a potato bake to go with some sausages and broccoli for dinner tonight

And that should just about do me, now on with the food-

What we bought

Northside Discount Fruit Barn



What we spent 
Northside Discount Fruit Barn-$25.04
Coles-$8.00 + Cat food (wet food) for Ninja (not pictured) $11.00

TOTAL-$120.09, not too bad!
What we ate

Friday-Prawn Stir Fry

Saturday and Sunday-Roast Pumpkin Alfredo 

Monday-Tempura Whiting with Choy Sum and steamed Basmati Rice

Tuesday-Roast Pumpkin Baked Semolina Gnocchi with Spinach, Tomato and Avocado Salad

Wednesday-Pan Fried Coral Trout with Colourful and Crunchy Salad with Nam Jim Dressing 

Thursday-Pork and Jalapeño Sausages with the last of the Colourful and Crunchy Salad

Your turn, what was on your family table this week and what are your plans for today?

Have a lovely day,

One Year Ago-This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday
Two Years Ago-A Before and After
Three Years Ago-My Favourite Frying Pans and Cookware

This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Friday, 25 January 2019
Hello Dear Reader,

How's your January going? Is it flying by like mine? Every time I write the date at work, I question myself, is it really the 20 something of January already!!! This weekend is a long weekend, thanks to Australia Day, which falls on a Saturday this year but the public holiday is observed on the Monday.

We have had no relief from the blistering heat that is occurring at the moment, I can't remember a summer like this, hot, hot, hot and no rain! Our water tank is empty and unless we get some rain in the next month or so, we will not be planting out our new raised garden beds in march, it just wouldn't be worth the stress of trying to keep water up to emerging plants.

Our water charges are disgustingly high so to use town water, to water the plants, just isn't in the plan. We are in the process of getting quotes for a large concrete slab and 3 x slimline water tanks so that when it does eventually rain we will have more than enough water to irrigate all of the gardens and hopefully never run out of water again.

Here's how I have saved money this week-

1. Ate fish from our freezer, we have a mile of fish, caught by lovely hubby in the freezer, we try to have at least one or two fish meals a week.

2. Made sure all leftovers were eaten in a timely manner. I put all leftovers front and centre in the fridge to make sure nothing is missed.

3. Packed my lunch everyday for work. Today's morning tea is a couple of slices of this Fruit and Spice loaf with marmalade and lunch is the last of this Colourful and Crunchy Salad with Nam Jim dressing, plus the last of the offcuts of some baked semolina gnocchi.

4. Started cleaning the windows, security screens and blinds. They were so dusty and dirty, we were at the stage where we could hardly see through some of them. I use this E-Cloth for cleaning the windows, I use a splash of this Miracle Cleaner for the tracks and blinds and I use an old cloth plus hot soapy water for the screens. The E-Cloth system simply uses water to clean, both frugal and eco-friendly. You can clean your entire home without using specialty, expensive cleaners.

7 windows and blinds down 8 to go!

5. Had a meat free meal of Pumpkin and Sage Baked Semolina Gnocchi on Tuesday, it turned out to be such a delicious dish, I will post the recipe next week.

Have a lovely day,

One Year Ago-Spinach and Roast Pumpkin Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing 
Two Years Ago-What we bought, spent and ate this week
Three Years Ago-Home Made Peanut Butter


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Slice

Thursday, 24 January 2019
Hello Dear Reader,

I have a lovely reading list of blogs that I follow religiously, as I know I am always going to find something of interest, Mel from "Mel's Kitchen Cafe" never fails to satisfy. I had bookmarked this recipe from a while ago, really wanting to give it a whirl and last Sunday was the day for whirling. After I had popped on this bread in the slow cooker, I set about making this beaut slice.

As always I have fiddled with the original recipe to suit my taste and to reflect the ingredients already at home. I used a natural peanut butter (it's this Ancient Grains one be exact, we bought it from the Golden Circle Factory Outlet a while ago) now it is a lovely, very natural peanut butter, but I don't love the chia seeds in it as they get stuck and go soft and spongy in-between my teeth. So I thought what a great way to use up this peanut butter. Baking the slice also cooks the chia seeds making them less inclined to end up stick in my teeth. Use whatever peanut butter you would usually use, I say.

Here's the amended recipe I made-

Ingredients for Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Slice, clockwise from top left-
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, 2 cups plain flour, 1 tablespoon vanilla essence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup peanut butter (whatever variety you have) 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 eggs at room temperature, 200 grams of dark chocolate chips and 150 gram butter

Line a 20cm x 30cm baking tin with baking paper and preheat oven to 180C 

In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and peanut butter 

Then add the brown sugar, vanilla essence and eggs 

And whisk till quite smooth, if using a natural peanut butter there will still be some chunky bits, but that is more than fine

Now sieve over the flour, salt and baking powder

And mix well to incorporate all the flour

Now add the chocolate chips

And mix till evenly distributed 

Pour and scape mixture into prepared tin

And bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden but still a bit squidgy, please don't overcook it

Let cool completely in tin before slicing

This is such a divinely easy, maybe too easy, slice to make, it is wonderful warm or cold and for my taste just sweet enough. I altered the original recipe by reducing amount of sugar, butter and chocolate chips. Just watch it disappear, one piece just isn't enough!

Have a lovely day,

One Year Ago-Rescuing the Fig Tree
Two Years Ago-Roast Veggie Pasta
Three Years Ago-My Favourite Tea