Monday, 30 July 2012

Meals for Under $10 - Zucchini Slice & Salad

It's Monday again (gosh where do the days go?) so here is this week's meal to feed a family of 4 adults for under $10.

Zucchini Slice and Salad - Approximate total cost $9.00

Zucchini Slice - Serves 5 to 6 adults (Cost per serve $1.30)

1 large or 2 small zucchini's grated
4 eggs
3 rashers of bacon
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, grated
1 stick of celery (optional)
1/2 cup corn kernels, either frozen or cut from fresh cobs
1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup self raising flour
salt, pepper to taste

In a shallow pan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil, fry onion & bacon for 2 minutes.  Add celery, peas and corn and cook stirring for 1 minute.  Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Mix in the zucchini, carrot, cheese, flour and season with salt and pepper.  Add all other ingredients including the cooked onion, bacon and veggie mix.  Combine well and pour into a quiche dish or other oven proof dish.

Bake in moderate oven (180C) for 30 to 40 minutes or until cooked through and lightly brown on top.
Serve with a salad for a complete meal.  You can find my Pear and Walnut Salad here.

This recipe is delicious hot or cold and makes a good lunch box meal if there are any left overs.  It can be doubled and the other portion frozen for a prepare ahead meal.

You can also modify it by leaving out the peas and corn or celery if you don't have them on hand.

Leave a message if you are finding this regular Monday blog about meals to reduce your grocery budget enjoyable or useful.


Friday, 27 July 2012

Oven-dried Tomatoes

The vegetable garden is producing lots of Roma tomatoes at the moment and I have had enough spares to dehydrate some to be used later.  I love to buy sun-dried tomatoes from our supermarket for use on pizza's, in salads, eating on their own on crackers etc.

My dehydrator died and I haven't purchased another one yet so I had a go at drying them in the oven.  I cut the tomatoes in half and placed them on greased trays so they wouldn't stick.  Then I sprinkled them with salt and some dried basil and put them in the oven which had been set to 120C (250F).  

It took about 4 hours for them to dry out enough that I was happy but they could have done with another hour if you like them really chewy.  Mine were about 3/4 dehydrated or what is referred to as semi-dried tomatoes.  I then packed them (not too tightly) into jars and covered them with olive oil.

I must confess though, I got a little impatient and turned the oven up a notch for the last hour and some are a little darker than I would have liked.  Next time I will wait patiently.

Out of two large trays full of tomatoes I got 2 medium sized jars.  The vegetable garden is still producing so there still maybe more of these to make in my near future.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Making Your Own Carpet Powder

I never buy those commercial carpet powders anymore as I find the smell overpowering and when I sprinkle them around the dust gets up my nose and I'm just not sure exactly what I'm applying to the floor where my kids sit, lie and play and grandson crawls around.

Usually a regular vacuum does the trick to keep the carpets pretty clean and odour free but with the recent addition of indoor pets to our family I thought some odour eating powder might be a good idea once in a while.

What better to use than something that absorbs odours and is inexpensive and environmentally, pet and human friendly and that is of course Bi-carb soda (baking soda).

I took a packet of bicarb soda, added about 2 teaspoons of ground cloves and mixed it together well.  Next I sprinkled it onto my carpet and left it to sit for a few hours then vacuumed as normal.  The house is left smelling amazing but not artificially perfumed, more like a hint of warmth and homeliness.  Of course you could use any number of essential oils and add them to your bi-carb soda to create your own personal home fragrance but I also like that cloves repel a lot of insects including fleas, moths, flies and even mice.

I'm now waiting for an empty container to come along that I can recycle like, talcum powder bottle or something I can put holes in so that I can have a sprinkling action for my new carpet powder.  This time though I just sprinkled it on with my hands which worked equally as well.


Monday, 23 July 2012

Meals Under $10 - Spaghetti Bolognese

This weeks meal to feed your family for under $10 is an old favourite and I am sure that most of you already have your own recipe that you go to when you make this, but for those who have never made Spaghetti Bolognaise then here is the recipe I use.  It is one I know off by heart as I have been making it for years and it's another family favourite.

Spaghetti Bolognese (Approx cost $7.50)

500 Minced Beef
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf

Spaghetti pasta cooked in boiling water
Parmesan Cheese to serve

Fry beef mince in a pan until well browned.  Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add tomato paste and cook for another minute, this deepens and caramelises the flavour of the tomato paste.
Add all of the herbs and cover the entire mixture with water. (Approximately 2 cups).  Simmer for approximately an hour to allow the flavour of the herbs to infuse throughout the meat sauce.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water for approximately 10 minutes. Drain.

Arrange the pasta on a plate and serve the meat sauce on top.

I serve Spaghetti Bolognese with parmesan cheese and garlic bread on the side.

This is also a great prepare ahead meal.  You can double or even triple the quantity and freeze portions of the meat sauce.  Then when you  need a quick meal you only need to defrost the sauce and cook the pasta.



Monday, 16 July 2012

Meals under $10 - Easy Chicken and Vegetable Pie

This weeks meal for feeding your family for under $10 is a quick and easy chicken and vegetable pie.  This recipe can be adapted to suit whatever vegetables you have on hand so is a good end of the week meal to use up the last of those carrots, celery, mushrooms etc in the bottom of the fridge.

I have used the left over chicken from a roast in this pie but you could any cooked chicken you have.

Easy Chicken and Vegetable Pie

2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or tarragon)
2 carrots cut into cubes
1 potato cut into cubes
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
2 sticks celery, sliced
1 tablespoon plain/all purpose flour
1-2 cups chicken stock
Olive oil for frying

Pre-made pastry (I used a sheet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry from the supermarket for this pie as it was in my freezer and needed using up, but you could make your own pastry).

Heat oil in pan and gently saute onions and garlic until soft.  Add all other vegetables and thyme and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of flour and cook over a gentle heat for 1 minute.  Add chicken stock (or if you have some left over white wine you can use 1 cup of that and 1 cup of stock).  Stir until thickened.  Add the cooked chicken and stir through. Season with salt and pepper.  The mixture should be wet but not runny.

Pour the chicken and vegetable mixture into a shallow pie dish and top with the pastry.

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C (350F) for 20 minutes or until pastry is cooked and golden.

Serve with some mashed potatoes or potato wedges and enjoy.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals

It's my last week of  holidays and I'm back to thinking about ways to eliminate the rush of housework, cooking, baking etc during the work week.

One of the best ways to put a smile on my face is to smell something delicious from the slow cooker wafting down the hallway when I come through the front door.  Somehow I always seem to forget that I've put the slow cooker on and when I come home I get a whiff of dinner already cooked and it is a wonderful thing :)

I've prepared a menu of 4 different meals and I am going to double the portions to make enough for 8 meals.  I'll cook the double portion so that I have one meal for that evening and then can either freeze the other meal or eat it later in the week.  There should also be some leftovers from each evening that we can take for lunch the next day.  8 meals will last me about 4 weeks if we use 2 per week.

I have added a note at the bottom of this post on how to increase the flavour in slow cooker meals.

4 x double quantity freezer to slow cooker meals (8 meals to feed 4 people)
Menu (each meal serves 4 - portions given are doubled so serve 8)
Beef Goulash
Chicken and Vegetable Casserole 
Chili (recipe found here on my blog) Just add all ingredients into a ziplock bag and freeze.
Moroccan Chicken

Shopping List
16 chicken thighs (or a mix of chicken pieces)
1 kg cubed beef
1 kg beef minced
8 tins tomatoes
4 red capsicum
10 large carrots
1 bunch celery
1 bunch broccoli
250 - 300gm Mushrooms
6 onions
2 cups frozen peas
Bulb of garlic
2 cans red kidney beans
Large Ziplock bags

The other ingredients like stock, herbs & spices, I have a regular stock of in the pantry so if you are going to follow my menu check the recipes and your pantry before going shopping.

Beef Goulash
1kg. Lean beef cube
3 onions chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Paprika
½ tsp. Basil
2 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Pepper
2 bay leaves
3 tins tomatoes
1 small carton lite sour cream

Place beef cubes in a large ziplock bag with onions, garlic, and tomatoes, paprika, basil, sugar, salt, pepper and bay leaves. I give the mixture a good squish around in the bag to combine the flavours as I'm not usually around to stir it while it is cooking. 
Write a label so you know what the recipe is when you come to cook it.
Dump in crock pot frozen and cook on low for at least 6 hours. When ready to serve, add sour cream and serve over pasta.

Moroccan Chicken
·     8 chicken thighs or pieces (or a whole chicken cut into serving pieces)
·     6 - 8 potatoes
·     2 cans diced tomatoes (or 6-7 large fresh tomatoes, diced
·     6 carrots or parsnips, quartered
·     2 large onions, sliced in 1/4's
·     2 - 4 cloves crushed garlic
·     2 red capsicum, cut into 1" cubes or slices
·     2 cups peas (if desired)
·     parsley (1/4 cup fresh or 2 tbs. dried)
·     3 tsp paprika
·     a pinche of saffron, if you've got it
·     salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken pieces in a large ziplock bag with tomatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, capsicum and peas.
parsley, paprika, saffron, salt & pepper. I give the mixture a good squish around in the bag to combine the flavours as I'm not usually around to stir it while it is cooking. 
Write a label so you know what the recipe is when you come to cook it.
Peel and cut potatoes into large pieces and place on the bottom of the crockpot.  Empty bags into crock pot frozen and cook on low for at least 6 hours. Stir occasionally to combine flavours.
Add water if necessary to keep mixture wet and saucy. Check seasonings and re-season with salt and pepper if needed.
Now, if you want to eat in authentic Moroccan style, dish onto a large plate and serve with lots of pita or flat bread (or something crusty like French works well too).
Freeze vegetable peelings and offcuts for stock making
Chicken and Vegetable Casserole 
8 chicken thighs or legs (or a whole chicken cut into serving pieces)
2 onions, diced
4 carrots, sliced thickly
4 large potatoes
1 bunch broccoli
4 stalks celery
salt, pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
4 cups chicken stock

I prefer to remove the skin from the chicken. Peel the vegetables, except for the potatoes, and cut into large pieces so they don't go too mushy, especially the broccoli (it can be cut smaller after cooking).
Place this mixture into a zip lock bag with the salt, pepper, thyme and stock if preferred and freeze. I give the mixture a good squish around in the bag to combine the flavours as I'm not usually around to stir it while it is cooking. 

When you are ready to cook, peel potatoes, cut into large pieces and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the frozen chicken and vegetable mix and pour over the chicken stock if you haven't combined this in the frozen mix. After cooking you may need to thicken with a little flour before serving.  To do this just mix 1 or 2 tablespoons of plain/all purpose flour with a little water to a smooth paste and stir through the casserole.  Cook for a few more minutes before serving.

The whole process from getting the ingredients out of the cupboard and fridge, right through until finishing the clean up afterwards took a total of 2 hours.  That included a few wanderings out to the herb patch and a couple of other small side tracks.

At the end of this cooking bonanza I had a really good start on the next lot of vegetable peelings for making another batch of the slow cooker stock.

Note:  To get more flavour into your slow cooker meals it is best to caramelize the meat and onions before placing them into the slow cooker.  This freezer to slow cooker method eliminates that and it is sometimes necessary to use extra salt and spices.  However you can fry off the meat and onions and then when they are cool add them to the freezer bags along with the raw vegetables.  The problem I see with this for me is that I am away at work for 8 hours and the meat dries out too much because it has been precooked, but if you are home and are using this method you can turn the slow cooker off after just a few hours.


Friday, 13 July 2012

Homemade Stock in the Slow Cooker

Ever since reading Christine's post on 'Slow Living Essentials' about making stock in the slow cooker, and from scraps no less, I've been saving my kitchen peelings for such an event.  Now the time has come and I have enough to create quite a large batch of yummy homemade chicken stock.  Pop over to Christine's blog and see how she does it too.

I have been saving my carrot and onion peelings, some spring onion tops, parsley stalks and a couple of chicken frames left over from roasts.  Each night I have just been adding them to a container in the freezer until I had what I thought was enough for a lot of stock and once the stock was made I then froze it into smaller portions in ziplock bags for future use.

I had been meaning to try making my own stock, but with working outside of the home it seemed like something I just couldn't add to my list of weekend activities, but with Christine's method it is simple.  I took the frozen vegetables and chicken and put it in the slow cooker, covered it with water, cut up the celery leaves from a fresh bunch as I didn't have any frozen, and added a couple of bay leaves, some peppercorns and salt with a splash of Apple Cider vinegar, turned on the slow cooker and walked away.

Another thing that concerned me at first was using the brown skins from the onions, was it safe to eat those?  As a knitter and spinner I have used them to make lovely dyes for wool and was a bit worried about the tannins (?) that come from the skin and if it was suitable for consumption and guess what?  Turns out they are very very good for you so that was another bonus to making this stock.
You can read some more about the benefits of adding brown onion skins to soups, and stews here and here.

Voila!.....12 hours later I have 3 litres of beautiful homemade, healthy chicken stock.  Remove the vegetable and chicken bones and then strain through some muslin.  What could be easier than that?  It tastes better than store bought stock, is better for you because it doesn't have any of the preservatives and additives heaped with salt, and it is made from things that would normally be thrown away so it is almost free.
I froze mine in 1-litre portions in ziplock bags ready for use as most recipes seem to ask for 4 cups of stock.

With the left over vegetables and bits of chicken and some of the stock I added some rice and made a casserole for dog food, making sure I picked out all the bones and only used the carrots and some of the greens in the vegetables.

I'm going to add this to my regular processes in the kitchen and enjoy fresh homemade stock from now on.
Thanks Christine!


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Knitting, Crochet, Kitting

My daughter has a couple of photo shoots coming up for friends babies and requested some new hats for the occasion so I have been knitting and crocheting like a crazy woman trying to beat the mothers-to-be before they go into labour.  A newborn photography shoot is usually done within a few days after the birth.

I will update photos of the babies modeling them once they arrive and the photo session has been completed but for now here are my photos taken after the hats were finished.

"EZ Earflapps" by Jeannie Kubricht - My Ravelry post on this hat can be found here
Unfortunately when I went to get the link to this pattern from Neanners Swet Shop blog, all had been removed due to people stealing the images which are copyrighted to a friend who has a photography business.  It is a shame as her patterns are wonderfully inventive and she offers them free. It is also a shame because I am just about to start the decreases on the hat that is still on the needles but I'm pretty sure I can figure it out for myself even if it does turn out a bit differently.  I guess that is one reason to print your patterns out rather than read them on an iPad!

Baby Bear Hat by Gilda Knits on Ravelry
This little bear hat is so cute and the pattern is also free but only available as a Ravelry download so if you are not yet a member I encourage you to join up.  It is a wonderful knitters and crocheters resource and community.  Hope to see you there, you can find me under the name 'Aussieraveler'.

"Buy My 'Papes, Sir Newsboys Hat" by Jenny Wiebe
This Newsboys hat is also a free pattern and can be found on Jenny's blog at 'Hands full of happiness' by clicking on the link in the photo caption.

I've also been working on completing my 'Sugar Plum Fairy' sweater that has been on the needles since last year.  It is nearly done but as you can see above I have been a little sidetracked with other projects.  I'm hoping to finish it tonight then I'll wash and block it and take photos.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Meals Under $10 - Lasagne and Salad

There is an extra mouth to feed in our family now that my hubby has returned from living overseas and I have really noticed a difference in how much I cook and the types of meals.

It seems that when it was just my son and I, it didn't really matter whether I threw some spaghetti or eggs on toast for the evening meal a few times a week but now there are three of us I put together a much more complete meal.  I'm not sure if it's because of the extra person at the table or whether it is because it is my husband and there is some subliminal message saying that's what I should be doing.

Anyhow one of our fairly regular family meals has always been Lasagne and because it is made with ground beef mince which is a cheap cut of meat, it fits into the category of feeding your family for under $10.  I always serve it with a basic salad and some of my 'secret salad dressing'.

1/2 cup cream
1 pkt Instant (or fresh) Lasagne pasta sheets

Tomato Sauce
500g beef mince
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tins tomatoes, chopped (or equivalent in fresh tomatoes)
1/4 tsp basil, 1/4 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp oregano (dried) or equivalent in fresh herbs
1/2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

Bechamel Sauce
60gm (2 oz) butter
4 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
2 cups milk
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
pinch ground nutmeg

Heat oil in pan and add beef mince, fry until nicely browned then add onion and garlic, cooking for 2 minutes.  Add all other ingredients for Tomato Sauce and simmer for approximately 1 hour to allow the flavours to develop.

Make Bechamel Sauce as follows: Melt butter in saucepan and stir in flour. Cook over a low heat for 2 minutes and slowly add milk while stirring to eliminate lumps.  Stir until sauce thickens then add half the grated cheese and stir until it has melted and is combined with the sauce.  Season with a small pinch of nutmeg and salt to taste.

Assembling the Lasagne
In a lasagne or baking dish layer the ingredients as follows:
Lasagne sheets, meat and tomato sauce, bechamel sauce (repeat).  Top with a layer of lasange sheets, sprinkle with 1 cup grated cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese.
Bake in moderate oven for 30 - 35 minutes, pour cream over the top and bake for a further 15 - 20 minutes or until Lasagne sheets are tender.

Serve with a garden salad.

I know this is not the traditional Italian Lasagne recipe but it's amazingly good.  It is taken from the Women's Weekly recipe cards my mother gave me.  When we travelled throughout Italy my boys had opportunity to eat Lasagne many many times and they still say this is the best one they have tasted so it's a keeper for me!


Friday, 6 July 2012

Warm Potpourri

One of my favourite things about winter is the smell of warm potpourri simmering on the stove top or by the fire.  These recipes are best used on a potbelly stove or tile fire and as they are warming they release the spicy aromas into your home all day. However if you don't have a fireplace you can simmer them for a few minutes at time, on a regular stove top several times throughout the day.

Citrus Warmed Potpourri

1 cinnamon curl
peel of an orange or lemon
6 cloves
2 or 3 bay leaves
2 cups water

Place all ingredients in a small pot or kettle and keep warm or just near simmering beside the fire or on your stovetop all day.  Remember to top up the water throughout the day as it evaporates.

Spicy Warmed Potpourri

1 cinnamon curl
8 to 10 cloves
2 or 3 bayleaves
1 tspn all spice
1/2 tspn grated nutmeg

These also make wonderful gifts for friends and family or products to sell on a Christmas or Winter Solstice stall.  Using dried ingredients mix some together and store in jars, decorate and label with instructions for use.

Dried Ingredients for Gifts (Makes 3 cups or small jars)

8 cinnamon curls (broken into 2 or 3 pieces)
1/4 cup whole cloves
12 dried bayleaves
Dried peel or slices of 2 oranges
Dried peel or slices of 2 lemons
1/4 cup whole all spice

Mix together and store in sealed jars.
You could add other dried spices, either whole or ground, like nutmeg, star anise, ginger, cardamon or dried apple peel for variation.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Family Celebrations

I haven't written for a few days as I've been spending some time with my husband, Brett who has just returned from living overseas.

Four years ago we decided to make a huge change in our lives and try living as expatriates in a completely foreign land and chose to move to Qatar in the Middle East.  Qatar is a small peninsular that sticks out from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf.  It is an Emirate run by the Al Thani ruling family who feature quite prominently in world news as many peace talks and world class sporting events take place in Qatar.

We didn't know how long we would be living overseas and just decided to 'see what happened', we might stay in Qatar or even move onto another country in a few years as we really enjoy the expat lifestyle.

Our two boys came with us to live there as they were both school aged at the time and our girls both stayed here in Australia.   Our eldest boy attended the school where my husband worked and I home-schooled our youngest which was a great adventure and in Qatar there are many expat families who homeschool so we had plenty of social interaction, ran co-ops, art days, excursions and other great activities to enhance their learning.

Living in a foreign country is a wonderful learning opportunity in itself and from Qatar we were able to do a lot of international travel and see many amazing sights and countries like Italy, France, England, Turkey, Thailand, Egypt and others.  It really is true that 'travel broadens the mind'.

Last year I returned home because I needed to come back to my job here in Australia (or lose it) and also our daughter Vanessa and her husband Dave were expecting their first child.  My husband stayed on to complete his contract in Qatar and while we have visited there since returning home and he has been back here, we haven't seen him since Christmas last year so it has been 6 long months.

Yesterday was a day to spend with family. Vanessa with baby Taylor came to visit, our other daughter Samantha and son Adam came home too and Dylan who still lives at home was there so we were all together again for the first time in a long time.  The house was loud and fun and full of life, there was good food and plenty of entertainment from all the babies in our home getting to know each other and I'm sure Brett felt welcomed and happy to be back with his family.


Sunday, 1 July 2012

Slow Living Month 6

Here we are again at the beginning of a new month, and once again it is time to join with Christine from Slow Living Essentials blog and take account of what's been happening over the past month at Monarch Place.  I really enjoy writing these posts as it makes me think deeply about my month and I've noticed that the areas I find the hardest to write about are the Enhance and Discover areas.  I have a goal now to put more effort into those two areas so stay tuned for next month and we will see how I've done.

Looking back over the blog this past month and there seems an unusually large amount of recipes and food posts.  I guess that is mostly due to the cold wet weather and being stuck indoors so much more but I'm also continuing with Monday feature blogs of meals that cost under $10 to feed a family of 4 adults or 2 adults and 6 kids.  The crock pot has also been dragged out of hiding in the back of the cupboard and creating some delicious comfort foods like soups, corned beef & braised lamb shanks for cold winter nights.

I can finally say I am preparing for my dear husband to come home from working overseas for the past 3 years.  We were there with him for the first 2 but have been back in Australia for a year now with him still being overseas.  The clock is ticking an it will just be a few short days before he will be here so it's time to move my clothes over in the wardrobe to make room.  Funny thing though...they seem to just creep right back across to his side.  I wonder if I can talk him into using the spare room wardrobe hmmm.  I also need to get the lawn mowed and edges done so it is not the first thing he has to do when he returns.  Now I just need the sun to shine and dry the lawn out so it can be done.

I'm focussing on knitting down my yarn stash rather than buying more and more yarn.  So far it's working about half the time but it is surprising just how many times the colour or size of the yarn just won't work.  I'm determined to keep trying though as I would rather be able to plan a project and buy the yarn that I need for it at the time than feel guilty because I already have containers full of yarn just sitting there.

We have signed the papers to have solar panels installed on our roof.  Luckily too as we just made it in time before our State Government decided to pull the feed in tariff payment back from 44 cents per kilowatt to 9 cents per kilowatt.  By signing before 9th July we are locked in to receive the 44 cent tariff for another 16 years until 2028.  I have also been killing weeds in pathways just using boiling water and then creating a hostile environment for more to grow by using salt and bicarbonate of soda.

The vegetable garden is full again and growing nicely.  At the moment I am just starting to pick tomatoes, and I'm still picking parsley, rosemary, mint, basil, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.  Newly planted are beetroot, cabbage, snow peas and bush beans.  There are also some marigolds lining the area where the cabbage are to try to discourage the white cabbage moth and other bugs.

Knitting is the main creative activity going on around here at the moment.  There have been hats, pants, socks and sweaters all clicking away on the needles this month.  While my Mum and Auntie were visiting they completed the border on a quilt that I had been making on and off for ages.  It had been in storage while I was overseas and we pulled it out and now it is finally complete.  There has also been some delving into the latest craze of making garden ornaments from recycled glass plates, bowls and vases and finally I made a lovely batch of homemade Lavender soap.

I'm reading a book called 'The Bishop of Rwanda' by John Rucyahana.  It is an enlightening read about the genocide in Rwanda and the forgiveness of the Tutsi people.  Although I knew about the horrible ordeals the Rwandan people have been through in the past decade, I never had a deep understanding about the causes of the genocide or Rwandan history before reading this book.

I posted a free knitting pattern that I wrote last year.  It is for a cute little baby hat and has been on Ravelry (a community site for knitters and crocheters) for about a year now with lots of activity, people downloading the pattern and others who have knitted it and posted photos and comments.  I have now added the pattern to my blog pages here so others who are not members of Ravelry can still enjoy it. I'm working on another free pattern as I write this which I will share once it is finished.

I'm on holidays!  Again I hear you say?  Yes, I actually get 10 weeks holidays a year as I am what is considered 'Term Time Only' staff at a school.  This means that I get all the school holidays off but it also means that I don't get paid for that time either so I need to budget carefully, especially over the Christmas period where I'm off work and unpaid for 7 weeks.  I do enjoy having all these extra weeks off though as it gives me time to potter around the house and garden and do lots of little projects that would otherwise mount up and perhaps never get done.

Thank you for visiting.  I love to read your comments so please leave me some and if you would like to read more please consider subscribing to the RSS feed or clicking on the 'Follow' button down the side of the blog.


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