26 November 2014

7 Simple Living Blogs To Inspire You

I've been sharing some articles recently on my facebook page about ideas to help simplify life. There are so many blogs out there, publishing great posts about different aspects of simple living. What I have found is that simple living means different things to different people. To me, simple living is about cutting out all the unnecessary stuff that crowds our lives. It's not getting rid of all our most loved possessions, but it is about taking a hard look at what we have and deciding if we really need it.

The William Morris Quote "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" sums up what I am aiming for perfectly.

I've listed some blogs I read, that inspire and encourage me when I'm thinking about simple living. They all take slightly different views of what simple living means, and I pick and choose the bits which suit me.

Slow Living Essentials

Down To Earth

Practicing Simplicity

Slow Your Home

House of Humble

Becoming Minimalist

Little House Living


Got any other good simple living blogs to add? Share away!

25 November 2014

Around The Farm

I take lots of photos. Lots. Not all of them make it on to the blog for the simple fact that they don't all fit the stories I choose to tell. Today here are some photos from around the farm in no particular order:

1. Radishes, peas, and lettuce freshly harvested.
2. A rare ornamental flower in our kitchen garden.
3. A chook
4. Orange almond cake fresh from the oven.
5. One of the little piglets from the latest litter.
6. Moving the ewes after crutching - always a dusty job.
7. Look at the speckles on that egg!
8. Garlic growing well in the garden, and the shearing shed in the back ground.
9. Beautiful heirloom Indian corn - we pulled the dried kernels from the cob to plant again this year.

What's been happening around your place lately?

24 November 2014

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

Christmas is always a chance for me to whip up something a little special. In our extended families, desserts are the crowning glory of a special meal, and we often have several to choose from. In recent years, the chocolate raspberry pav has become my go to dessert. So easy and yet so delicious. My recipe is based on Nigella Lawsons recipe, however I have tweaked it.

6 large egg whites (at room temperature)
300g (1 1/2c castor sugar)
3t balsamic vinegar
1/4c cocoa
50g dark chocolate - grated
600ml thickened cream
500g raspberries (frozen is ok if you can;t get fresh)
50g chocolate - extra for decorating

1. Preheat the oven to 150*c
2. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff and shiny.
3. Gradually add the castor sugar while beating, until all the sugar is combined.
4. Stir through the balsamic vinegar.
5. Sift in the cocoa and then gently fold through together with the grated chocolate.
6. Tear 3 sheets of baking paper and draw a 20cm circle on each.
7. Turn the baking paper over and place each on a baking tray.
8. Divide the mixture equally between the 3 sheets and spread to the edges of the circle. This will make sure that all 3 layers are the same size.
9. Bake for approximately 45 minutes.
10. Turn off the oven, and open the door slightly to allow to cool. (You can store the meringues once cool for a few days).
11. Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
12. Place one of the meringue disks on to a plate (use a little cream underneath to stop it from sliding around), and then pour a third of the cream on top.
13. Scatter some of the raspberries over the cream.
14. Place a second meringue disk on top, and repeat with the cream and raspberries.

15. Place the final meringue disk on the top.
16. Finish with a final layer of cream and raspberries,
17. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the extra chocolate over the top.

I've been thinking about menus for the Christmas period, and I'm definitely popping this on the menu again this year.

21 November 2014

9 Easy Christmas Crafts

Over the three and a half years I have been blogging, I've made and shared a few Christmas crafts. Some of them still get crazy amounts of views and shares around Christmas each year. So I thought I would put them all here for you to find. Nine easy Christmas crafts in one spot. You're welcome, or sorry (depending on your point of view).

1. Cold Porcelain Tree Ornaments
2. Button Christmas Trees
3. Paper Bauble Tree Ornaments - this is one of my biggest posts ever. Pinterest people share it a lot!
4. Reindeer Noses - the girls and I made these as gifts for school friends a few years back.
5. Christmas Bunting
6. Wire and Bead Tree Ornaments
7. Cookie Cutter Wreath
8. Christmas Stained Glass Windows
9. Button Tree Ornaments

Which one is your favourite? Have you done any Christmas crafts yet?

16 November 2014

Keeping It Simple: How To Declutter Almost Anything

Our kitchen is old. Old and cramped. (Click here to see it). It is a constant effort to keep it clean and semi organised. Last week I was digging through the two utensil drawers under our bench, when I noticed that there were things in the drawer that I had never used. Clearly it was ripe for some decluttering.

One of the keys to decluttering is to do little things often. Waiting till I have time to do the whole house is never going to happen, so I aim for one thing every other week, and a few extras during school holidays.

In the last six months I have gone through the kids toys and clothes, my clothes, our books, our pantry, odds and ends drawer (batteries, rubber bands etc), and laundry. Of course there is always more to do, but no matter what I am decluttering, I always follow the same process.

Step By Step Decluttering.

1. Remove everything - take everything out of drawer or cupboard, and pile it up neatly somewhere out of the way. Don't put it right in front of the cupboard, because it will be in the way for later steps.

2. Wipe out the drawer or cupboard and let it dry. This way it is nice and clean before you put items back in there.

3. While the drawer is drying, sort all the contents into three piles:
 a. Items  that are used regularly and are in good condition.
 b. Items that you never use or is broken. Be ruthless and honest about this. There is no use keeping something you never use or is broken on the off chance you might "need" it sometime.
 c. Items that you're not sure whether to purge or not.

4. Once the drawer is dry, sort the items you use regularly and put similar items together. Put these back into the drawers - you may need to use dividers or containers to help keep items separated.

5. Throw out items that are broken and donate any items that are in good condition but never used. I have a box that I put anything that will be donated into, that way I remember to take our donations with us when we go to town.

6. Put all the items you're not sure about in a box somewhere accessible. If you need something from that box, use it then put it into the drawer with the other items you use. If after 3 or 6 months, you haven't used the items, donate them.

As I was clearing and sorting the kitchen drawers, I thought I would take some before and after photos for you.

What is your strategy for decluttering? Do you declutter regularly?

Cooking With Kids: Fruit Turnovers

Over the weekend, Meg announced to me that she had made up a new recipe and that she wanted to cook it. As she explained it,"you get fruit and wrap it in pastry like an envelope".

Not wanting to squash her by telling her about the concept of turnovers, I let her show me how to make them.

Fruit Turnovers - By Meg
Makes 8

2 sheets puff pastry
4 nectarines (or other fruit such as apple, pear, peach, plum, or apricot)
2T sugar
2T milk

1. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 4 squares.
2. Cut the nectarine into quarters and remove the stone.
3. Place 2 pieces of nectarine in the centre of each pastry square.
4. Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over the fruit.

5. Fold the corners into the centre of each square.
6. Place on a baking tray lined with paper.

7. Repeat until all envelopes are completed.

8. Brush each envelope with a little milk and sprinkle with some cinnamon.
9. Bake for 12 minutes at 200*c

Meg served them very proudly with ice cream for dessert. They went down very well.

What do your kids like to cook?

11 November 2014

The Rope Swing

When we first moved down here, Country Boy was given a rope swing as a present. It hangs in a tree in the front yard, and not a day goes by where it isn't used. In the summer, the kids take turns in the late evening light. They love to sail through the air like they are flying, and do all sorts of stunts.

Meg is getting more daring everyday, and she tries to swing higher and higher. It looks like so much fun.

If only the rope would hold me!
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