Monday, 22 September 2014

Finding My Spring, Getting organised and a homemade Calendar!

Hello again…..!!! Its been a while I know. I got a little lost in winter and have only just found the energy to emerge again. 

Spring is by far, my favourite season. I love the blossoms and new green growth on all the trees. Everything starts to come alive again and that smell of 'bubblegum' can be smelt on those warm afternoons as the scent of new blooms waft through the air. I love that feeling of opening up all the doors and windows letting light and fresh air into the house. Jumpers and long sleeved tops are swapped for t-shirts and a wrap, the kids head outside earlier to play in the garden and Im not too fussed about whether they have shoes on or not. Slowly pockets of colour are appearing in the garden which make for perfect pickings for little vases inside. Spring brings back that bounce in my step that often gets lost towards the end of winter.

Which is kind of what happened….Back in July I suddenly felt tired and lacked the energy to keep on blogging. Im not quite sure why. At first I thought I would take just a week off, but a week turned into a month and a month turned into two! I read this post written by Janelle from the blog, A White Farm. It really resonated with me and probably explains where Ive been and why I needed this little break. The last few months have been busy nonetheless. The children are at a very busy age and there is always something happening. It gave me the chance to just hang out with the kids without the pressure of putting a 'post' together. As much as I enjoy this blog, the reality is, it does take time to prepare each post and then find the time to sit down and put everything together. I managed to get some pre spring cleaning done which is always a great feeling. Small clothes swapped for bigger clothes, winter for summer and storage boxes sorted through and tidied. My head had been feeling cloudy, and this tidy up certainly helped clear some air!

I had also been lucky enough to squeeze in a few fun things. In mid August, my lovely friend Mel, who lives up in Northern NSW invited me to join her and some girlfriends to attend Anneka Manning's Bakeclub Class which was held at Sophie Hanson's (Local is Lovely blog) Venison Farm in Orange. It was such a wonderful day and so worth the 14 hour round trip driving up to Orange. You can read more about the class here on Sophie's gorgeous blog. I can highly recommend Anneka's classes. Not only is she an amazing cook, but she is a great teacher and such a lovely, incredibly friendly and generous person. It was also lovely to meet Sophie, who is a fantastic host and made everyone feel so welcome at her gorgeous farm kitchen. If ever up near Orange, you must try and book in for a lunch at their farm. The class we did was all about pastry baking and I have to say I came home and made pastry every day for a week (slight overkill, but nothing beats homemade pastry, when it works!). My favourite recipe given by Anneka on the day was the Roasted Vegie Tart on a parmesan shortcrust pastry- just heavenly. We were also treated to a delicious lunch which Anneka and Sophie prepared for us during the class which included Blue Cheese & leek tarts, Chicken, Potato & thyme Pie, Vension Stout Pies, Spinach & Ricotta Pie and a Chocolate Pecan Tart. All amazingly delicious…..x
For anyone interested in attending a food styling and photography course being organised by Sophie this November….find more details here. This is definitely on my wishlist but I think Ive had my fun for the year! Im hoping she runs more next year….it sounds FANTASTIC!!!!

The other workshop I attended was at my friend Lisa's Flower School afternoon here in Echuca. 
A fun afternoon playing with flowers and meeting some lovely ladies.

Something else I was hoping to get on top of during the last few months was being more organised. I used to be organised, and then I had children! Normally these skills are supposed to improve but mine have got so bad of late. I love writing lists but dont always get everything ticked off at the end of the day. I have a diary which I have always used but for some reason I kept misplacing it and as a result not using it. I missed a few appointments, was late paying some bills and got a few dates mixed up, so I decided to go back to the old trusted calender system which I could position clearly in the kitchen and see what was going on- today, next week and all month.

I usually order calenders online through Shutterfly at the beginning of each year but this year…it just didnt happen. I also always fill the calender with our favourite photos of the kids taken throughout the previous years. Its always nice to reflect on what they looked like twleve months earlier. But as I was, um, dare I say, unorganised…and a tad time poor….I decided to change the theme of this years calender. I chose some photos I have taken and popped on instagram. Photos around the house- some of the garden, baking, etc. Its certainly no Country Style mag, but it brightens up the wall. And most importantly, I am feeling so much more organised because I see what we have on, when bills are due, when school holidays start and finish, preschool duty, playdates, visitors, etc. Another job ticked off the list!

There are lots of different companies you can choose to have calenders made with. In fact, the photo labs down at your local photo shop, K-Mart, Big W, Officeworks, etc all offer similar services too. Its a personal preference who you might like to use.

I have used Shutterfly the last 3 years and really happy with the price and quality. Loading photos takes a while so it pays to work out which ones you want to use and pop in a seperate file that you can easily upload. They have lots of themes and templates to choose from. Im very boring and just prefer a whole pic to page but if you feel the need for colour and patterns, there is plenty on offer. The other time consuming bit is entering in birthdays, annisversaries and other significant days. But once you have popped in your dates, as you have set up an account, it is remembered for future orders. Very handy!!! It is an american company so I did spend some time taking out the american holidays and adding the aussie days plus daylight savings, etc. This calender cost about $20 (with discount coupon) and was printed and delivered within the week. It really is a great service. I also adjusted the months so this calender started in July 2014 and goes through to end of June 2015. Yes- it caters for very unorganised folk like myself! These make great gifts for extended family especially at Christmas time, and especially ideal for those gifts that need posting! Just a thought….

On other news, Ive been working on a new business venture. Something I can do from home and juggle family as well as hopefully make a little bit of money. Im hoping to launch this new business in the next 2-3 weeks but will keep you all posted with whats going on. As a result, there will be a few changes with this blog. Actually, a complete makeover is the plan…but more of that in another week or so.

In the meantime, Thank you to everyone and anyone who has continued to follow my blog whilst Ive been underground. I hope to try and write a few posts a week but that will depend on family and home commitments…until next time xxx

Friday, 29 August 2014

Friday baking-Banana & Walnut Loaf

Somehow in our house over the past few weeks we have had an over supply of bananas. We usually add a bunch into the trolley each food shop, but we have been putting more in the trolley than the little banana fairies are consuming at home.

Normally I make muffins- each batch varies with whatever might be in pantry- choc chips, chia seeds, LSA, nuts, etc. Muffins are very popular in our house and moreso with me as it means I can leave them on the bench and let the kids help themselves. Plus they are super easy to freeze and even better to defrost when a certain unorganised mother requires a snack to feed hungary kids.

Today, however, I needed a change, especially considering there are quite a few bananas to bake through…..this loaf is for the grown ups although the little ones loved it equally.

Simple Banana & Walnut Loaf
1 1/2 cups Self Raising Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
125g melted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
Optional-Handful of roughly chopped walnuts- to sprinkle on top!

Grease loaf tin and line with baking paper. Preheat oven to 160 deg celcius.
Mix wet ingredients together then add to dry ingredients. Mix well then pour into baking tin. Sprinkle roughly chopped walnuts on top.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown on top and skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool on rack.

Best served whilst warm and lathered with butter and a glass of milk!
If the loaf happens to last longer then a day, it makes for a yummy breakfast- toasted if you please- lathered in butter or some yoghurt and honey drizzled over the top….and coffee xx

How do you use up your old bananas??
Any favourite recipes?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

My afternoon at Wallingford's Flower School!

With the smell of spring so close now, I thought I would share some photos taken from my friend Lisa's, lovely flower workshops held a few weeks ago.

Lisa is a local florist here in Echuca, which if you have been reading this blog, you will have possibly read a post or two (here and here) about her lovely business, Wallingford Flowers. In between the busy wedding seasons, Lisa is now running various flower workshops catering for anyone interested in learning the art of floral arranging (and many other fun flowery things too!!). As a qualified teacher in the field, teamed with her 26 years experience in the industry, Lisa is bursting with knowledge and ideas. Her classes are fun, creative and very colourful!

Sunday week ago a group of ladies came together out at Lisa's Old Dairy to learn a few tips from the expert herself about putting together pretty jam jar bouquets. A wonderful way to escape for a few hours and be surrounded in the sunlit dairy by gorgeous fresh anemones, ranunculus, hyacinths, jonquils plus many other pickings from Lisa's garden.

Over champagne and nibblies, much chatter, laughter and lots of lovely flowers to play with, Lisa guided us through the basics of caring for cut flowers and then some simple techniques for putting together posies to scatter around your home.

Such a fun afternoon, meeting some new friends and going home with our creations feeling very motivated to ensure that I keep our house decked out with some pretty bouquets scattered around the house using what flowers and foliage I can find from the garden. Such a nice alternative use for the zillion jam jars I have sitting in my pantry too!!!

For more information on the Wallingford Flower School, head over to Wallingford Flowers Facebook page, 'like' and stay up to date on upcoming workshops.
You can also follow on Instagram (@wallingfordflowers), visit the website or contact Lisa on 0414 709376.